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Full text of "Through the eye of the needle; a romance"

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GLKXX X1:GLI:Y 



DUKE UNIVERSITY 



LIBRARY 



The Glenn Negley Collection 
of Utopian Literature 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 
in 2010 witii funding from 
Duke University Libraries 



http://www.arcliive.org/details/tlirouglieyeofneedOOIiowe 



THROUGH THE 
EYE OF THE NEEDLE 



A Unmanrp 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION 



BY 
W. D. HOWELLS 




HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 

NEW YORK AND LONDON 
1907 



Copyright, 1907, by Harper & Brothers. 

yll! ri!{hts reserved. 
Published April, 1907. 






THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 



INTRODUCTION 

Akistides Homos, an Emissary of the Altrurian 
Commonwealth, visited the United States during the 
summer of 1893 and the fall and winter following. 
For some weeks or months he was the guest of a well- 
known man of letters at a hotel in one of our mountain 
resorts; in the early autumn he spent several days at 
the great Columbian Exhibition in Chicago; and later 
he came to New York, where he remained until he 
sailed, rather suddenly, for Altruria, taking the circui- 
tous route by which he came. He seems to have written 
pretty constantly throughout his sojourn with us to an 
intimate friend in his own country, giving freely his 
impressions of our civilization. His letters from New 
York appear to have been especially full, and, in offer- 
ing the present synopsis of these to the American 
reader, it will not be impertinent to note certain pecu- 
liarities of the Altrurian attitude which the tempera- 
ment of the writer has somewhat modified. He is 
entangled in his social sophistries regarding all the 
competitive civilizations; he cannot apparently do full 
justice to the superior heroism of charity and self-sac- 
rifice as practised in countries where people live upon 
each other as the Americans do, instead of for each] 
other as the Altrurians do; but he has some glimmer-' 
ings of the beauty of our living, and he has undoubted- 
ly the wish to be fair to our ideals. He is unable to 
value our devotion to the spirit of Christianity amid 

V 



INTRODUCTION 

the practices which seem to deny it ; hut he evidently 
wishes to recognize the possibility of such a thing. lie 
at least accords iis the virtues of our defects, and, among 
the many visitors wlio have censured us, he has not seen 
us with his censures prepared to fit the instances; in 
fact, the very reverse has been his method. 

Many of the instances which he fits with his censures 
are such as he could no longer note, if he came among 
us again. That habit of celebrating the munificence 
of the charitable rich, on which he spends his sarcasm, 
has fallen from us through the mere superabundance 
of occasion. Our rich people give so continuously for 
all manner of good objects that it would be impossible 
for our press, however vigilant, to note the successive 
benefactions, and millions are now daily bestowed upon 
needy educational institutions, of which no mention 
whatever is made in the newspapers. If a millionaire 
is now and then surprised in a good action by a re- 
porter of uncommon diligence, he is able by an appeal 
to their common humanity to prevail with the witness 
to spare him the revolting publicity which it must 
be confessed would once have followed his discovery; 
the right hand which is full to overflowing is now as 
skilled as the empty right hand in keeping the left hand 
ignorant of its doings. This has happened through the 
general decay of snobbishness among us, perhaps. It is 
certain that there is no longer the passion for a knowl- 
edge of the rich and the smart, which made us ridicu- 
lous to Mr. Homos. Ten or twelve years ago, our news- 
papers abounded in intelligence of the coming and go- 
ing of social leaders, of their dinners and lunches and 
teas, of their receptions and balls, and the guests who 
were bidden to them. But this sort of unwholesome 
and exciting gossip, which was formerly devoured by 
their readers with inappeasable voracity, is no longer 

vi 



INTKODUCTION 

supplied, simply because the taste for it has wholly 
passed away. 

Much the same might be said of the social hospitali- 
ties which raised our visitor's surprise. For example, 
many people are now asked to dinner who really need 
a dinner, and not merely those who revolt from the no- 
tion of dinner with loathing, and go to it with abhor- 
rence. At the tables of our highest social leaders one 
now meets on a perfect equality persons of interesting 
minds and uncommon gifts who would once have been 
excluded because they were hungry, or were not in the 
hostess's set, or had not a new gown or a dress-suit. 
This contributes greatly to the pleasure of the time, 
and promotes the increasing kindliness between the 
rich and poor for which our status is above all things 
notable. 

The accusation which our critic brings that the 
American spirit has been almost Europeanized away, 
in its social forms, would be less grounded in the ob- 
servance of a later visitor. The customs of good so- 
ciety must be the same everywhere in some measure, 
but the student of the competitive world would now 
find European hospitality Americanized, rather than 
American hospitality Europeanized. The careful re- 
search which has been made into our social origins has 
resulted in bringing back many of the aboriginal usages ; 
and, with the return of the old American spirit of fra- 
ternity, many of the earlier dishes as well as amenities 
have been restored. A Thanksgiving dinner in the 
year 1906 would have been found more like a Thanks- 
giving dinner in 1806 than the dinner to which Mr. 
Homos was asked in 1893, and M-hich he has studied 
so interestingly, though not quite without some faults 
of taste and discretion. The prodigious change for the 
better in some material aspects of our status which 

vii 



INTKODUCTION 

has taken place in the last twelve years could no- 
where be so well noted as in the picture he gives us 
of the housing of our people in 1893. His study 
of the evolution of the apartment - house from the 
old flat - house, and the still older single dwelling, is 
very curious, and, upon the whole, not incorrect. 
But neither of these last differed so much from the 
first as the apartment - house now differs from the 
apartment -house of his day. There are now no dark 
rooms opening on airless pits for the family, or black 
closets and dismal basements for the servants. Every 
room has abundant light and perfect ventilation, and 
as nearly a southern exposure as possible. The ap- 
pointments of the houses are no longer in the spirit 
of profuse and vulgar luxury which it must be allowed 
once characterized them. They are simply but taste- 
fully finished, they are absolutely fireproof, and, with 
their less expensive decoration, the rents have been 
so far lowered that in any good position a quarter of 
nine or ten rooms, with as many baths, can be had for 
from three thousand to fifteen thousand dollars. This 
fact alone must attract to our metropolis the best of 
our population, the bone and sinew which have no 
longer any use for themselves where they have been 
expended in rearing colossal fortunes, and now demand 
a metropolitan repose. 

The apartments are much better fitted for a family 
of generous size than those which Mr. Homos observed. 
Children, who were once almost unheard of, and quite 
unheard, in apartment-houses, increasingly abound un- 
der favor of the gospel of race preservation. The 
elevators are full of them, and in the grassy courts 
round which the houses are built, the little ones play 
all day long, or paddle in the fountains, warmed with 
steam-pipes in the winter, and cooled to an agreeable 

viii 



INTRODUCTION 

temperature in a summer which has almost lost its 
terrors for the stay-at-home ]S[ew- Yorker. Each child 
has his or her little plot of ground in the roof-garden, 
where they are taught the once wellnigh forgotten art 
of agriculture. 

The improvement of the tenement-house has gone 
hand in hand with that of the apartment-house. As 
nearly as the rate of interest on the landlord's invest- 
ment will allow, the housing of the poor approaches in 
comfort that of the rich. Their children are still more 
numerous, and the playgrounds supplied them in every 
open space and on every pier are visited constantly 
by the better-to-do children, who exchange with them 
lessons of form and fashion for the scarcely less valu- 
able instruction in practical life which the poorer lit- 
tle ones are able to give. The rents in the tenement- 
houses are reduced even more notably than those in the 
apartment- houses, so that now, with the constant in- 
crease in wages, the tenants are able to pay their rents 
promptly. The evictions once so common are very 
rare; it is doubtful whether a nightly or daily walk 
in the poorer quarters of the town would develop, in 
the coldest weather, half a dozen cases of families set 
out on the sidewalk with their household goods about 
them. 

The Altrurian Emissary visited this country when it 
was on the verge of the period of great economic de- 
pression extending from 1894 to 1898, but, after the 
Spanish War, Providence marked the divine approval 
of our victory in that contest by renewing in unex- 
ampled measure the prosperity of the Republic. With 
the downfall of the trusts, and the release of our indus- 
trial and commercial forces to unrestricted activity, the 
condition of every form of labor has been immeasurably 
improved, and it is now united with capital in bonds 

ix 



INTRODUCTION 

of the closest affection. But in no phase has its fate 
been so brightened as in that of domestic service. This 
has occurred not merely through the rise of wages, but 
through a greater knowledge between the employing 
and employed. When, a few years since, it became 
practically impossible for mothers of families to get 
help from the intelligence - offices, and ladies were 
obliged through lack of cooks and chambermaids to do 
the work of the kitchen and the chamber and parlor, 
they learned to realize what such work was, how poorly 
paid, how badly lodged, how meanly fed. From this 
practical knowledge it was impossible for them to re- 
treat to their old supremacy and indifference as mis- 
tresses. The servant problem was solved, once for all, 
by humanity, and it is doubtful whether, if Mr. Homos 
returned to us now, he would give offence by preaching 
the example of the Altrurian ladies, or would be shock- 
ed by the contempt and ignorance of American women 
where other women who did their household drudgery 
were concerned. 

As women from having no help have learned how 
to use their helpers, certain other hardships have been 
the means of good. The flattened wheel of the trolley, 
banging the track day and night, and tormenting the 
waking and sleeping ear, was, oddly enough, the inspi- 
ration of reforms which have made our city the quietest 
in the world. The trolleys now pass unheard; the 
elevated train glides by overhead with only a modu- 
lated murmur; the subway is a retreat fit for medita- 
tion and prayer, where the passenger can possess his 
soul in a peace to be found nowhere else; the auto- 
mobile, which was unknown in the day of the Altru- 
rian Emissary, whirs softly through the most crowded 
thoroughfare, far below the speed limit, with a sigh 
of gentle satisfaction in its own harmlessness, and, 

X 



INTEODUCTIOH 

" like the sweet South, taking and giving odor." The 
streets that he saw so filthy and unkempt in 1893 are 
now at least as clean as they are quiet. Asphalt has 
universally replaced the cobble - stones and Belgian 
blocks of his day, and, though it is everywhere full of 
holes, it is still asphalt, and may some time be put in 
repair. 

There is a note of exaggeration in his characteriza- 
tion of our men which the reader must regret. They are 
not now the intellectual inferior of our women, or at 
least not so much the inferiors. Since his day they have 
made a vast advance in the knowledge and love of lit- 
erature. With the multitude of our periodicals, and the 
swarm of our fictions selling from a hundred thousand 
to half a million each, even our business-men cannot 
wholly escape culture, and they have become more and 
more cultured, so that now you frequently hear them 
asking what this or that book is all about. With the 
mention of them, the reader will naturally recur to the 
work of their useful and devoted lives — the accumula- 
tion of money. It is this accumulation, this heaping- 
up of riches, which the Altrurian Emissary accuses in 
the love-story closing his study of our conditions, but 
which he might not now so totally condemn. 

As we have intimated, he has more than once guard- 
ed against a rash conclusion, to which the logical habit 
of the Altrurian mind might have betrayed him. If 
he could revisit us we are sure that he would have still 
greater reason to congratulate himself on his forbear- 
ance, and would doubtless profit by the lesson which 
events must teach all but the most hopeless doctrinaires. 
The evil of even a small war (and soldiers themselves 
do not deny that wars, large or small, are evil) has, 
as we have noted, been overruled for good in the sort 
of Golden Age, or Age on a Gold Basis, which we have 

xi 



INTRODUCTION 

long been enjoying. If our good-fortune slionld be con- 
tinued to us in reward of our public and private virtue, 
the fact would suggest to so candid an observer that 
in economics, as in other things, the rule proves the 
exception, and that as good times have hitherto always 
been succeeded by bad times, it stands to reason that 
our present period of prosperity will never be followed 
by a period of adversity. 

It would seem from the story continued by another 
hand in the second part of this work, that Altruria 
itself is not absolutely logical in its events, which arc 
subject to some of the anomalies governing in our own 
affairs. A people living in conditions which some of our 
dreamers would consider ideal, are forced to discour- 
age foreign emigration, against their rule of universal 
hospitality, and in at least one notable instance are 
obliged to protect themselves against what they believe 
an evil example by using compulsion with the wrong- 
doers, though the theory of their life is entirely op- 
posed to anything of the kind. Perhaps, however, we 
are not to trust to this other hand at all times, since it 
is a woman's hand, and is not to be credited with the 
firm and unerring touch of a man's. The story, as she 
completes it, is the story of the Altrurian's love for an 
American woman, and will be primarily interesting 
for that reason. Like the Altrurian's narrative, it is 
here compiled from a succession of letters, which in 
her case were written to a friend in America, as his 
were written to a friend in Altruria. But it can by 
no means have the sociological value which the record 
of his observations among ourselves will have for the 
thoughtful reader. It is at best the record of desultory 
and imperfect glimpses of a civilization fundamentally 
alien to her own, such as would attract an enthusiastic 
nature, but would leave it finally in a sort of misgiving 

xii 



INTKODUCTION 

as to the reality of the things seen and heard. Some 
such misgiving attended the inquiries of those who met 
the Altrurian during his sojourn with us, but it is a 
pity that a more absolute conclusion should not have 
been the effect of this lively lady's knowledge of the 
ideal country of her adoption. It is, however, an in- 
teresting psychological result, and it continues the tra- 
dition of all the observers of ideal conditions from Sir 
Thomas More down to William Morris. Either we 
have no terms for conditions so unlike our own that 
they cannot be reported to us with absolute intelligence, 
or else there is in every experience of them an essential 
vagueness and uncertainty. 



PART FIEST 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 



If I spoke with Altrurian breadth of the way ISTew- 
Yorkers live, my dear Cyril, I should begin by saying 
that the l^ew- Yorkers did not live at all. But outside 
of our happy country one learns to distinguish, and to 
allow that there are several degrees of living, all indeed 
hateful to us, if we knew them, and yet none without 
some saving grace in it. You would say that in condi- 
tions where men were embattled against one another by 
the greed and the envy and the ambition which these 
conditions perpetually appeal to here, there could be no 
grace in life; but we must remember that men have 
always been better than their conditions, and that 
otherwise they would have remained savages without 
the instinct or the wish to advance. Indeed, our own 
state is testimony of a potential civility in all states, 
which we must keep in mind when we judge the peo- 
ples of the plutocratic world, and especially the Amer- 
ican people, who are above all others the devotees and 
exemplars of the plutocratic ideal, without limitation 
by any aristocracy^ theocracy, or monarchy. They 
are purely commercial, and the thing that cannot be 
bought and sold has logically no place in their life. 
But life is not logical outside of Altruria; we are the 
only people in the world, my dear Cyril, who are priv^ 
ile^ed to live reasonably; and again I say we must 

3 



THROUGH THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

put by our own critcrions if wc wish to understand the 
Americans, or to recognize that measure of loveliness 
which their warped and stunted and perverted lives 
certainly show, in spite of theory and in spite of con- 
science, even. I can make this clear to you, I think, 
by a single instance, say that of the American who sees 
a case of distress, and longs to relieve it. If he is rich, 
he can give relief with a good conscience, except for 
the harm that may come to his beneficiary from being 
helped; but if he is not rich, or not finally rich, and 
especially if he has a family dependent upon him, he 
cannot give in anything like the measure Christ bade 
us give without wronging those dear to him, imme- 
diately or remotely. That is to say, in conditions 
\vhich oblige every man to look out for himself, a man 
cannot be a Christian without remorse; he cannot do 
a generous action without self-reproach ; he cannot be 
nobly unselfish without the fear of being a fool. You 
would think that this predicament must deprave, and 
so without doubt it does; and yet it is not wholly de- 
praving. It often has its effect in character of a rare 
and pathetic sublimity; and many Americans take all 
the cruel risks of doing good, reckless of the evil that 
may befall them, and defiant of the upbraidings of 
their own hearts. This is something that we Altrurians 
can scarcely understand : it is like the munificence of 
a savage who has killed a deer and shares it with his 
starving tribesmen, forgetful of the hungering little 
ones who wait his return from the chase with food; 
for life in plutocratic countries is still a chase, and 
the game is wary and sparse, as the terrible average of 
failures witnesses. 

Of course, I do not mean that Americans may not 
give at all without sensible risk, or that giving among 
them is always followed bv a logical regret; but, as I 

4 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

said, life with them is in no wise logical. They even 
applaud one another for their charities, which they 
measure by the amount given, rather than by the love 
that goes with the giving. The widow's mite has lit- 
tle credit with them, but the rich man's million has 
an acclaim that reverberates through their newspapers 
long after his gift is made. It is only the poor in 
America who do charity as we do, by giving help where 
it is needed ; the Americans are mostly too busy, if 
they are at all prosperous, to give anything but money ; 
and the more money they give, the more charitable 
they esteem themselves. From time to time some man 
with twenty or thirty millions gives one of them away, 
usually to a public institution of some sort, where it 
will have no effect with the people who are underpaid 
for their work or cannot get work; and then his deed 
is famed throughout the continent as a thing really 
beyond praise. Yet any one who thinks about it must 
know that he never earned the millions he kept, or the 
millions he gave, but somehow made them from the 
labor of others ; that, with all the wealth left him, he 
cannot miss the fortune he lavishes, any more than if 
the check which conveyed it were a withered leaf, and 
not in any wise so much as an ordinary working-man 
might feel the bestowal of a postage-stamp. 

But in this study of the plutocratic mind, always 
so fascinating to me, I am getting altogether away from 
what I meant to tell you. I meant to tell you not 
how Americans live in the spirit, illogically, blindly, 
and blunderingly, but how they live in the body, and 
more especially how they house themselves in this city 
of ]Srew York. A great in any of them do not house 
themselves at all, but that is a class which we cannot 
now consider, and I will speak only of those who have 
some sort of a roof over their heads. 

5 



II 



FoRMEELY the ISTew- Yorker lived in one of three 
different ways: in private houses, or boarding-houses, 
or hotels; there were few restaurants or public tables 
outside of the hotels, and those who had lodgings and 
took their meals at eating-houses were but a small 
proportion of the whole number. The old classifica- 
tion still holds in a measure, but within the last thirty 
years, or ever since the Civil War, when the enormous 
commercial expansion of the country began, several dif- 
ferent ways of living have been opened. The first 
and most noticeable of these is housekeeping in flats, 
or apartments of three or four rooms or more, on the 
same floor, as in all the countries of Europe except 
England; though the flat is now making itself known 
in London, too. Before the war, the ISTew-Yorker who 
kept house did so in a separate house, three or four 
stories in height, with a street door of its own. Its 
pattern within was fixed by long usage, and seldom 
varied; without, it was of brown -stone before, and 
brick behind, with an open space there for drying 
clothes, which was sometimes gardened or planted with 
trees and vines. The rear of the city blocks which 
these houses formed was more attractive than the front, 
as you may still see in the vast succession of monoto- 
nous cross-streets not yet invaded by poverty or busi- 
ness; and often the perspective of these rears is pict- 
uresque and pleasing. But with the sudden growth 
of the population when peace came, and through the 

6 



THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

acquaintance the hordes of American tourists had 
made Avith European fashions of living, it became easy, 
or at least simple, to divide the floors of many of these 
private dwellings into apartments, each with its own 
kitchen and all the apparatus of housekeeping. The 
ajDartments then had the street entrance and the stair- 
ways in common, and they had in common the cellar 
and the furnace for heating; they had in common the 
disadvantage of being badly aired and badly lighted. 
They were dark, cramped, and uncomfortable, but 
they were cheaper than separate houses, and they 
were more homelike than boarding - houses or hotels. 
Large numbers of them still remain in use, and when 
people began to live in flats, in conformity with the 
law of evolution, many buildings were put up and sub- 
divided into apartments in imitation of the old dwell- 
ings which had been changed. 

But the apartment as the ISTew- Yorkers now mostly 
have it, was at the same time evolving from another 
direction. The poorer class of l^ew York work-people 
had for a long period before the war lived, as they still 
live, in vast edifices, once thought prodigiously tall, 
which were called tenement-houses. In these a family 
of five or ten persons is commonly packed in two or 
three rooms, and even in one room, where they eat 
and sleep, without the amenities and often without the 
decencies of life, and of course without light and air. 
The buildings in case of fire are death-traps; but the 
law obliges the owners to provide some apparent means 
of escape, which they do in the form of iron balconies 
and ladders, giving that festive air to their facades 
which I have already noted. The bare and dirty en- 
tries and staircases are really ramifications of the filthy 
streets without, and each tenement opens upon a land- 
ing as if it opened upon a public thoroughfare. The 

7 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

rents extorted from the inmates is sometimes a Imn- 
(Ired per cent., and is nearly always cruelly out of pro- 
portion to the value of the houses, not to speak of the 
"wretched shelter afforded ; and when the rent is not 
paid the family in arrears is set with all its poor house- 
hold gear upon the sidewalk, in a pitiless indifference 
to the season and the weather, which you could not 
realize without seeing it, and which is incredible even 
of plutocratic nature. Of course, landlordism, which 
you have read so much of, is at its worst in the case of 
the tenement-houses. But you must understand that 
comparatively few people in ISTew York own the roofs 
that shelter them. By far the greater nimiber live, 
however they live, in houses owned by others, by a 
class who prosper and grow rich, or richer, simply by 
owning the roofs over other men's heads. The land- 
lords have, of course, no human relation with their ten- 
ants, and really no business relations, for all the affairs 
between them are transacted by agents. Some have the 
reputation of being better than others; but they all 
live, or expect to live, without work, on their rents. They 
are very much respected for it ; the rents are considered 
a just return from the money invested. You must try 
to conceive of this as an actual fact, and not merely as 
a statistical statement. I know it will not be easy for 
you ; it is not easy for me, though I have it constantly 
before my face. 



Ill 



The tenement-house, such as it is, is the original of 
the apartment - house, which perpetuates some of its 
most characteristic features on a scale and in material 
undreamed of in the simple philosophy of the inventor 
of the tenement-house. The worst of these features is 
the want of light and air, but as much more space 
and as many more rooms are conceded as the tenant 
will pay for. The apartment-house, however, soars to 
heights that the tenement - house never half reached, 
and is sometimes ten stories high. It is built fireproof, 
very often, and is generally equipped with an elevator, 
which runs night and day, and makes one level of all 
the floors. The cheaper sort, or those which have de- 
parted less from the tenement-house original, have no 
elevators, but the street door in all is kept shut and 
locked, and is opened only by the tenant's latch-key 
or by the janitor having charge of the whole building. 
In the finer houses there is a page whose sole duty it 
is to open and shut this door, and who is usually brass- 
buttoned to one blinding effect of livery with the ele- 
vator-boy. Where this page or hall-boy is found, the 
elevator carries you to the door of any apartment you 
seek; where he is not found, there is a bell and a 
speaking-tube in the lower entry, for each apartment, 
and you ring up the occupant and talk to him as many 
stories off as he happens to be. But people who can 
afford to indulge their pride will not live in this sort 
of apartment-house, and the rents in them are much 

9 



TIIKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

lower than in tlie finer sort. The finer sort are vul- 
garly fine for the most part, with a gaudy splendor 
of mosaic pavement, marble stairs, frescoed ceilings, 
painted walls, and cabinet wood-work. But there are 
many that are fine in a good taste, in the things that 
are common to the inmates. Their fittings for house- 
keeping are of all degrees of perfection, and, except 
for the want of light and air, life in them has a high 
degree of gross luxury. They are heated throughout 
with pipes of steam or hot water, and they are some- 
times lighted with both gas and electricity, which the 
inmate uses at will, though of course at his own cost. 
Outside, they are the despair of architecture, for no 
style has yet been invented which enables the artist to 
characterize them with beauty, and wherever they lift 
their vast bulks they deform the whole neighborhood, 
throwing the other buildings out of scale, and making 
it impossible for future edifices to assimilate themselves 
to the intruder. 

There is no end to the apartment-houses for multi- 
tude, and there is no street or avenue free from them. 
Of course, the better sort are to be found on the fash- 
ionable avenues and the finer cross-streets, but others- 
follow the course of the horse-car lines on the eastern 
and western avenues, and the elevated roads on the 
avenues which these have invaded. In such places 
they are shops below and apartments above, and I 
cannot see that the inmates seem at all sensible that 
they are unfitly housed in them. People are born and 
married, and live and die in the midst of an uproar so 
frantic that you would think they would go mad of it ; 
and I believe the physicians really attribute something 
of the growing prevalence of neurotic disorders to the 
wear and tear of the nerves from the rush of the trains 
passing almost momently, and the perpetual jarring 

10 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

of the earth and air from their swift transit. I once 
spent an evening in one of these apartments, which 
a friend had taken for a few weeks last spring (you 
can get them out of season for any length of time), 
and as the weather had begun to be warm, we had the 
windows open, and so we had the full effect of the rail- 
road operated under them. My friend had become 
accustomed to it, but for me it was an affliction which 
I cannot give you any notion of. The trains seemed 
to be in the room ^vith us, and I sat as if I had a loco- 
motive in my lap. Their shrieks and groans burst 
every sentence I began, and if I had not been master 
of that visible speech which we use so much at home 
I never should have known what my friend was saying. 
I cannot tell you how this brutal clamor insulted me, 
and made the mere exchange of thought a part of the 
squalid struggle which is the plutocratic conception 
of life ; I came away after a few hours of it, bewildered 
and bruised, as if I had been beaten upon with ham- 
mers. 

Some of the apartments on the elevated lines are 
very good, as such things go; they are certainly costly 
enough to be good; and they are inhabited by people 
who can afford to leave them during the hot season 
when the noise is at its worst; but most of them be- 
long to people who must dwell in them summer and 
winter, for want of money and leisure to get out of 
them, and who must suffer incessantly from the noise 
I could not endure for a few hours. In health it is 
bad enough, but in sickness it must be horrible beyond 
all parallel. Imagine a mother with a dying child in 
such a place; or a wife bending over the pillow of her 
husband to catch the last faint whisper of farewell, as 
a train of five or six cars goes roaring by the open 
window! What horror! what profanation! 

11 



IV 



Tke noise is bad everywhere in ISTew York, but in 
some of the finer apartment-houses on the better streets 
you are as well out of it as you can be anywhere in 
the city. I have been a guest in these at different 
times, and in one of them I am such a frequent guest 
that I may be said to know its life intimately. In fact, 
my hostess (women transact society so exclusively in 
America that you seldom think of your host) in the 
apartment I mean to speak of, invited me to explore 
it one night when I dined with her, so that I might, 
as she said, tell my friends when I got back to Altruria 
how people lived in America ; and I cannot feel that I 
am violating her hospitality in telling you now. She 
is that Mrs. Makely whom I met last summer in the 
mountains, and whom you thought so strange a type 
from the account of her I gave you, but who is not 
altogether uncommon here. I confess that, with all her 
faults, I like her, and I like to go to her house. She 
is, in fact, a very good woman, perfectly selfish by tra- 
dition, as the American women must be, and wildly 
generous by nature, as they nearly always are ; and in- 
finitely superior to her husband in cultivation, as is 
commonly the case with them. As he knows nothing 
but business, he thinks it is the only thing worth 
knowing, and he looks down on the tastes and interests 
of her more intellectual life with amiable contempt, 
as something almost comic. She respects business, too, 
and so she does not despise his ignorance as you would 

12 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

suppose; it is at least the ignorance of a business-man, 
who must have something in him beyond her ken, or 
else he would not be able to make money as he does. 

With your greater sense of humor, I think you would 
be amused if you could see his smile of placid self- 
satisfaction as he listens to our discussion of questions 
and problems which no more enter his daily life than 
they enter the daily life of an Eskimo; but I do not 
find it altogether amusing myself, and I could not well 
forgive it, if I did not know that he was at heart so 
simple and good, in spite of his commerciality. But 
he is sweet and kind, as the American men so often 
are, and he thinks his wife is the delightfulest creature 
in the world, as the American husband nearly always 
does. They have several times asked me to dine with 
them en famille; and, as a matter of form, he keeps 
me a little while with him after dinner, when she has 
left the table, and smokes his cigar, after wondering 
why we do not smoke in Altruria; but I can see that 
he is impatient to get to her in their drawing - room, 
where we find her reading a book in the crimson light 
of the canopied lamp, and where he presently falls 
silent, perfectly happy to be near her. The drawing- 
room is of a good size itself, and it has a room opening 
out of it called the library, with a case of books in it, 
and Mrs. Makely's piano-forte. The place is rather too 
richly and densely rugged, and there is rather more 
curtaining and shading of the windows than we should 
like ; but Mrs. Makely is too well up-to-date, as she 
would say, to have much of the bric-a-brac about which 
she tells me used to clutter people's houses here. There 
are some pretty good pictures on the walls, and a few 
vases and bronzes, and she says she has produced a 
greater effect of space by quelling the furniture — she 
means, having few pieces and having them as small as 

13 



THEOFGH THE EYE OF THE XEEDLE 

possible. There is a little stand with her afternoon 
tea-set in one comer, and there is a pretty \vriting- 
desk in the library ; I remember a sofa and some easy- 
chairs, but not too many of them. She has a table near 
one of the windows, with books and papers on it. She 
tells me that she sees herself that the place is kept just 
as she wishes it, for she has rather a passion for neat- 
ness, and you never can trust servants not to stand the 
books on their heads or study a vulgar symmetry in 
the arrangements. She never allows them in there, she 
says, except when they are at work under her eye ; and 
she never allows anybody there except her guests, and 
her husband after he has smoked. Of course, her dog 
must be there : and one evening after her husband fell 
asleep in the arm<-hair near her, the dog fell asleep on 
the fleece at her feet, and we heard them softly breath- 
ing in unison. 

She made a pretty little mocking mouth when the 
sound first became audible, and said that she ought 
really to have sent Mr. Makely out with the dog, for 
the dog ought to have the air every day, and she had 
been kept indoors; but sometimes Mr. Makely came 
home from business so tired that she hated to send him 
out, even for the dog's sake, though he was so apt to 
become dyspeptic. ^' They won't let you have dogs in 
s<:>me of the apartment-houses, btit I tore up the first 
lease that had that clause in it, and I told Mr. ]^^akely 
that I would rather live in a house all my days than 
any flat where my dog wasn't as welcome as I was. Of 
course, they're rather troublesome." 

The Makelys had no children, but it is seldom that 
the occupants of apartment-houses of a good class have 
children, though there is no clause in the lease against 
them. I verified this fact from Mrs. Makelv herself, 
by actual inquirv. for in all the times that I had gone 

14 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

up and down in the elevator to her apartment I had 
never seen any children. She seemed at first to think 
I was joking, and not to like it, but when she found 
that I was in earnest she said that she did not suppose 
all the families living under that roof had more than 
four or five children among them. She said that it 
would be inconvenient; and I could not allege the 
tenement-houses in the poor quarters of the city, where 
children seemed to swarm, for it is but too probable 
that they do not regard convenience in such places, and 
that neither parents nor children are more comfortable 
for their presence. 



Comfort is the American ideal, in a certain way, 
and comfort is certainly what is studied in such an 
apartment as the Makelys inhabit. We got to talking 
about it, and the ease of life in such conditions, and 
it was then she made me that offer to show me her 
flat, and let me report to the Altrurians concerning it. 
She is all impulse, and she asked, How would I like to 
see it now'i and when I said I should be delighted, 
she spoke to her husband, and told him that she was 
going to show me through the flat. He roused himself 
promptly, and went before us, at her bidding, to turn 
up the electrics in the passages and rooms, and then 
she led the way out through the dining-room. 

" This and the parlors count three, and the kitchen 
here is the fourth room of the eight," she said, and as 
she spoke she pushed open the door of a small room, 
blazing with light and dense with the fumes of the 
dinner and the dish-washing which was now going on 
in a closet opening out of the kitchen. 

She showed me the set range, at one side, and the 
refrigerator in an alcove, which she said went with the 
flat, and, "Lena," she said to the cook, "this is the 
Altrurian gentleman I was telling you about, and I 
want him to see your kitchen. Can I take him into 
your room ?" 

The cook said, " Oh yes, ma'am," and she gave me 
a good stare, while Mrs. Makely went to the kitchen 
window and made me observe that it let in the out- 

16 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

side air, tliongli tlie court that it opened into was so 
dark that one had to keep the electrics going in the 
kitchen night and day. " Of course, it's an expense," 
she said, as she closed the kitchen door after ns. She 
added, in a low, rapid tone, " You must excuse my 
introducing the cook. She has read all about you in 
the papers — you didn't know, I suppose, that there 
were reporters that day of your delightful talk in the 
mountains, but I had them — and she was wild, when 
she heard you were coming, and made me promise to 
let her have a sight of you somehow. She says she 
wants to go and live in Altruria, and if you would like 
to take home a cook, or a servant of any kind, you 
wouldn't have much trouble. !N"ow here," she ran on, 
without a moment's pause, while she flung open an- 
other door, " is what you won't find in every apart- 
ment-house, even very good ones, and that's a back 
elevator. Sometimes there are only stairs, and they 
make the poor things climb the whole way up from the 
basement, when they come in, and all your marketing 
has to be brought up that way, too; sometimes they 
send it up on a kind of dumb - waiter, in the cheap 
places, and you give your orders to the market-men 
down below through a speaking-tube. But here we have 
none of that bother, and this elevator is for the kitchen 
and housekeeping part of the flat. The grocer's and 
the butcher's man, and anybody who has packages for 
you, or trunks, or that sort of thing, use it, and, of 
course, it's for the servants, and they appreciate not 
having to walk up as much as anybody." 

"Oh yes," I said, and she shut the elevator door 
and opened another a little beyond it. 

" This is our guest chamber," she continued, as she 
ushered me into a very pretty room, charmingly fur- 
nished. " It isn't very light by day, for it opens on a 

^17 



THROUGH THE EYE OP THE NEEDLE 

court, like the kitchen and the servants' room here," 
and with that she whipped out of the guest chamber 
and into another doorway across the corridor. This 
room was very much narrower, but there were two 
small beds in it, very neat and clean, with some fur- 
nishings that were in keeping, and a good carpet un- 
der foot. Mrs. Makely was clearly proud of it, and 
expected me to applaud it; but I waited for her to 
speak, which upon the whole she probably liked as well. 

" I only keep two servants, because in a flat there 
isn't really room for more, and I put out the wash and 
get in cleaning-women when it's needed. I like to use 
my servants well, because it pays, and I hate to see 
anybody imposed upon. Some people put in a double- 
decker, as they call it — a bedstead with two tiers, like 
the berths on a ship; but I think that's a shame, and 
I give them two regular beds, even if it does crowd 
them a little more and the beds have to be rather 
narrow. This room has outside air, from the court, 
and, though it's always dark, it's very pleasant, as you 
see." I did not say that I did not see, and this suf- 
ficed Mrs. Makely. 

" ISTow," she said, " I'll show you our rooms," and 
she flew down the corridor towards two doors that stood 
open side by side and flashed into them before me. 
Her husband was already in the first she entered, 
smiling in supreme content with his wife, his belong- 
ings, and himself. 

" This is a southern exposure, and it has a perfect 
gush of sun from morning till night. Some of the 
flats have the kitchen at the end, and that's stupid; 
you can have a kitchen in any sort of hole, for you 
can keep on the electrics, and with them the air is per- 
fectly good. As soon as I saw these chambers, and 
found out that they would let you keep a dog, I told 

18 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

Mr. Makely to sign the lease instantly, and I would 
see to the rest." 

She looked at me, and I praised the room and its 
dainty tastefulness to her heart's content, so that she 
said : " Well, it's some satisfaction to show you any- 
thing, Mr. Homos, you are so appreciative. I'm sure 
you'll give a good account of us to the Altrurians. 
Well, now we'll go back to the pa — drawing-room. 
This is the end of the story." 

" Well," said her husband, with a wink at me, " I 
thought it was to be continued in our next," and he 
nodded towards the door that opened from his wife's 
bower into the room adjoining. 

'' Why, you poor old fellow !" she shouted. " I for- 
got all about your room," and she dashed into it before 
us and began to show it off. It was equipped with 
every bachelor luxury, and with every appliance for 
health and comfort. " And here," she said, " he can 
smoke, or anything, as long as he keeps the door shut. 
Oh, good gracious! I forgot the bath-room," and 
they both united in showing me this, with its tiled 
floor and walls and its porcelain tub; and then Mrs. 
Makely flew up the corridor before us. " Put out the 
electrics, Dick!" she called back over her shoulder. 



VT 



When we were again seated in the drawing-room, 
which she had been so near calling a parlor, she con- 
tinued to bubble over with delight in herself and her 
apartment. " ISTow, isn't it about perfect ?" she urged, 
and I had to own that it was indeed very convenient 
and very charming; and in the rapture of the moment 
she invited me to criticise it. 

" I see very little to criticise," I said, " from your 
point of view ; but I hope you won't think it indiscreet 
if I ask a few questions ?'* 

She laughed. " Ask anything, Mr. Homos ! I hope 
I got hardened to your questions in the mountains." 

" She said you used to get off some pretty tough 
ones," said her husband, helpless to take his eyes 
from her, although he spoke to me. 

" It is about your servants," I began. 

" Oh, of course ! Perfectly characteristic ! Go on." 

" You told me that they had no natural light either 
in the kitchen or their bedroom. Do they never see 
the light of day ?" 

The lady laughed heartily. " The waitress is in the 
front of the house several hours every morning at her 
work, and they both have an afternoon off once a week. 
Some people only let them go once a fortnight; but I 
think they are human beings as well as we are, and I 
let them go every week." 

" But, except for that afternoon once a week, your 
cook lives in electric-light perpetually ?" 

20 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" Electric-light is very healthy, and it doesn't heat 
the air !" the lady triumphed. " I can assure you that 
she thinks she's very well off; and so she is." I felt 
a little temper in her voice, and I was silent, until she 
asked me, rather stiffly, " Is there any otlier inquiry 
you would like to make ?" 

" Yes," I said, " but I do not think you would 
like it." 

" ]^ow, I assure you, Mr, Homos, you were never 
more mistaken in your life. I perfectly delight in 
your naivete. I know that the Altrurians don't think 
as we do about some things, and I don't expect it. 
What is it you would like to ask ?" 

" Well, why should you require your servants to go 
down on a different elevator from yourselves ?" 

" Wliy, good gracious !" cried the lady • — " aren't 
they different from us in every way? To be sure, they 
dress up in their ridiculous best when they go out, 
but you couldn't expect us to let them use the front 
elevator? I don't want to go up and down with my 
own cook, and I certainly don't with my neighbor's 
cook!" 

"Yes, I suppose you would feel that an infringe- 
ment of your social dignity. But if you found yourself 
beside a cook in a horse-car or other public conveyance, 
you would not feel personally affronted ?" 

" ISTo, that is a very different thing. That is some- 
thing we cannot control. But, thank goodness, we can 
control our elevator, and if I were in a house where I 
had to ride up and down with the servants I would no 
more stay in it than I would in one where I couldn't 
keep a dog. I should consider it a perfect outrage. I 
cannot understand you, Mr. Homos! You are a gen- 
tleman, and you must have the traditions of a gentle- 
man, and yet you ask me such a thing as that!" 

21 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

I saw a cast in her husband's eve which I took for 
a hint not to press the matter, and so I thought I had 
better say, " It is onlv that in Altruria we hold serving 
in peculiar honor." 

" Well," said the lady, scornfully, " if you went and 
got your servants from an intelligence-office, and had 
to look up their references, you wouldn't hold them in 
very much honor. I tell you they look out for their 
interests as sharply as we do for ours, and it's nothing 
between us but a question of — " 

" Business," suggested her husband. 

" Yes," she assented, as if this clinched the matter. 

'* That's what I'm always telling you, Dolly, and 
yet you will try to make them your friends, as soon as 
you get them into your house. You want them to love 
you, and you know that sentiment hasn't got anything 
to do with it." 

"Well, I can't help it, Dick. I can't live with a 
person without trying to like them and wanting them 
to like me. And then, when the ungrateful things are 
saucy, or leave me in the lurch as they do half the 
time, it almost breaks my heart. But I'm thankful to 
say that in these hard times they won't be apt to leave 
a good place without a good reason." 

" Are there many seeking employment ?" I asked 
this because I thought it was safe ground. 

" Well, they just stand around in the office as 
tliich!" said the lady. "And the Americans are try- 
ing to get places as well as the foreigners. But I won't 
have Americans. They are too uppish, and they are 
never half so well trained as the Swedes or the Irish. 
They still expect to be treated as one of the family. I 
suppose," she continued, with a lingering ire in Her 
voice, " that in Altruria you do treat them as one of the 
family ?" 

22 



THROUGH THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

" We have no servants, in the American sense," I 
answered, as inoffensively as I could. 

Mrs. Makely irrelevantly returned to the question 
that had first provoked her indignation. " And I 
should like to know how much worse it is to have a 
back elevator for the servants than it is to have the 
basement door for the servants, as you always do when 
you live in a separate house?" 

" I should think it was no worse," I admitted, and 
I thought this a good chance to turn the talk from the 
dangerous channel it had taken. " I wish, !Mrs. ^lake- 
ly, you would tell me something about the way people 
live in separate houses in ISTew York." 

She was instantly pacified. " Why, I should be 
delighted. I only wish my friend Mrs. Bellington 
Strange was back from Europe ; then I could show you 
a model house. I mean to take you there, as soon as 
she gets home. She's a kind of Altrurian herself, you 
know. She was my dearest friend at school, and it 
almost broke my heart when she married Mr. Strange, 
so much older, and her inferior in every way. But 
she's got his money now, and oh, the good she does do 
with it! I know you'll like each other, Mr. Homos. 
I do wish Eva was at home!" 

I said that I should be very glad to meet an Amer- 
ican Altrurian, but that now I wished she would tell 
me about the normal Xew York house, and what was 
its animating principle, beginning with the basement 
door. 

She laughed and said, " Why, it's just like any other 
house !" 



VII 



I CAN never insist enough, my dear Cyril, upon the 
illogicality of American life. You know what the plu- 
tocratic principle is, and what the plutocratic civiliza- 
tion should logically be. But the plutocratic civiliza- 
tion is much better than it should logically be, bad as 
it is; for the personal equation constantly modifies it, 
and renders it far less dreadful than you would rea- 
sonably expect. That is, the potentialities of goodness 
implanted in the human heart by the Creator forbid 
the plutocratic man to be what the plutocratic scheme 
of life implies. He is often merciful, kindly, and gen- 
erous, as I have told you already, in spite of condi- 
tions absolutely egoistical. You would think that the 
Americans would be abashed in view of the fact that 
their morality is often in contravention of their eco- 
nomic principles, but apparently they arc not so, and 
I believe that for the most part they are not aware of 
the fact, l^evertheless, the fact is there, and you must 
keep it in mind, if you would conceive of them rightly. 
You can in no other way account for the contradic- 
tions which you will find in my experiences among 
them; and these are often so bewildering that I have 
to take myself in hand, from time to time, and ask 
myself what mad world I have fallen into, and whether, 
after all, it is not a ridiculous nightmare. I am not 
sure that, when I return and we talk these things over 
together, I shall be able to overcome your doubts of 
my honesty, and I think that when I no longer have 

24 



THROUGH THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

them before my eyes I shall begin to doubt my own 
memory. But for the present I can only set down 
what I at least seem to sec, and trust you to accejjt 
it, if you cannot understand it. 

Perhaps I can aid you by suggesting that, logically, 
the Americans should be what the Altrurians are, since 
their polity embodies our belief that all men are born 
equal, with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit 
of happiness; but that illogically they arc what the 
Europeans are, since they still cling to the economical 
ideals of Europe, and hold tliat men are born socially 
unequal, and deny them the liberty and happiness which 
can come from equality alone. It is in their public 
life and civic life that Altruria prevails; it is in their 
social and domestic life that Europe prevails ; and here, 
I think, is the severest penalty they must pay for ex- 
cluding women from political affairs; for women arc 
at once the best and the worst Americans: the best 
because their hearts are the purest, the worst because 
their heads are the idlest. " Another contradiction !" 
you will say, and I cannot deny it; for, with all their 
cultivation, the American women have no real intel- 
lectual interests, but only intellectual fads ; and while 
they certainly think a great deal, they reflect little, or 
not at all. The inventions and improvements which 
have made their household work easy, the wealth that 
has released them in such vast numbers from work 
altogether, has not enlarged them to the sphere of du- 
ties which our Altrurian women share with us, but has 
left them, with their quickened intelligences, the prey 
of the trivialities which engross the European women, 
and which have formed the life of the sex hitherto in 
every country wdiere women have an economical and 
social freedom ^\^thout the political freedom that can 
alone give it dignity and import. They have a great 

25 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

deal of beauty, and they are inconsequently charming; 
I need not tell you that they are romantic and heroic, 
or that they would go to the stake for a principle, if 
they could find one, as willingly as any martyr of the 
past; but they have not much more perspective than 
children, and their reading and their talk about read- 
ing seem not to have broadened their mental horizons 
beyond the old sunrise and the old sunset of the kitchen 
and the parlor. 

In fine, the American house as it is, the American 
household, is what the American woman makes it 
and wills it to be, whether she wishes it to be so or 
. not ; for I often find that the American woman wills 
If things that she in no wise wishes. What the normal 
'New York house is, however, I had great difficulty in 
getting Mrs. Makely to tell me, for, as she said quite 
frankly, she could not imagine my not knowing. She 
asked me if I really wanted her to begin at the begin- 
ning, and, when I said that I did, she took a little more 
time to laugh at the idea, and then she said, " I sup- 
pose you mean a brown-stone, four-story house in the 
middle of a block ?" 

" Yes, I tliink that is what I mean," I said. 

" Well," she began, " those high steps that they all 
have, unless they're English-basement houses, really 
give them another story, for people used to dine in 
the front room of their basements. You've noticed the 
little front yard, about as big as a handkerchief, gen- 
erally, and the steps leading down to the iron gate, 
which is kept locked, and the basement door inside the 
gate? Well, that's what you might call the back ele- 
vator of a house, for it serves the same purpose: the 
supplies are brought in there, and market-men go in 
and out, and the ashes, and the swill, and the servants 
— that you object to so much. We have no alleys in 

26 



THROUGH THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

'New York, the blocks are so narrow, north and south; 
and, of course, we have no back doors; so we have to 
put the garbage out on the sidewalk — and it's nasty 
enough, goodness knows. Underneath the sidewalk 
there are bins where people keep their coal and kin- 
dling. You've noticed the gratings in the pave- 
ments ?" 

I said yes, and I was ashamed to own that at first 
I had thought them some sort of registers for temper- 
ing the cold in winter; this would have appeared 
ridiculous in the last degree to my hostess, for the 
Americans have as yet no conception of publicly modi- 
fying the climate, as we do. 

" Back of what used to be the dining - room, and 
what is now used for a laundry, generally, is the 
kitchen, with closets between, of course, and then the 
back yard, which some people make very pleasant with 
shrubs and vines ; the kitchen is usually dark and close, 
and the girls can only get a breath of fresh air in the 
yard ; I like to see them ; but generally it's taken upAvith 
clothes-lines, for people in houses nearly all have their 
washing done at home. Over the kitchen is the dining- 
room, which takes up the whole of the first floor, with 
the pantry, and it almost always has a bay-window out 
of it; of course, that overhangs the kitchen, and dark- 
ens it a little more, but it makes the dining-room so 
pleasant. I tell my husband that I should be almost 
willing to live in a house again, just on account of the 
dining-room bay-window. I had it full of flowers in 
pots, for the southern sun came in ; and then the yard 
was so nice for the dog; you didn't have to take him 
out for exercise, yourself; he chased the cats there 
and got plenty of it. I must say that the cats on the 
back fences were a drawback at night; to be sure, we 
have them here, too; it's seven stories down, but you 

27 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

do liear them, uloiig in the spring. The parlor, or 
drawing-room, is usually rather long, and runs from 
the dining-room to the front of the house, though 
where the house is very deep they have a sort of 
middle room, or back parlor. Dick, get some paper 
and draw it. Wouldn't you like to see a plan of the 
floor?" 

I said that I should, and she bade her husband make 
it like their old house in West Thirty - third Street. 
We all looked at it together. 

" This is the front door," Mrs. Makely explained, 
" where people come in, and then begins the misery 
of a house — stairs! They mostly go up straight, but 
sometimes they have them curve a little, and in the 
new houses the architects have all sorts of little dodges 
for squaring them and putting landings. Then, on the 
second floor — draw it, Dick — you have two nice, large 
chambers, with plenty of light and air, before and be- 
hind. I do miss the light and air in a flat, there's no 
denying it." 

" You'll go back to a house yet, Dolly," said her 
husband. 

" jSTever !" she almost shrieked, and he winked at 
me, as if it were tlie best joke in the world. " j^ever, 
as long as houses have stairs !" 

" Put in an elevator," he suggested. 

" Well, that is what Eveleth Strange has, and she 
lets the servants use it, too," and Mrs. Makely said, 
with a look at me: " I suppose that would please you, 
Mr. Homos. Well, there's a nice side-room over the 
front door here, and a bath-room at the rear. Then 
you have more stairs, and large chambers, and two side- 
rooms. That makes plenty of chambers for a small 
family. I used to give two of the third-story rooms 
to my two girls, I ought really to have made them 

28 



THEOUGH THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

sleep in one; it seemed sucli a shame to let the cook 
have a whole large room to herself; but I had nothing 
else to do with it, and she did take such comfort in it, 
poor old thing ! You see, the rooms came wrong in our 
house, for it fronted north, and I had to give the girls 
sunny rooms or else give them front rooms, so that 
it was as broad as it was long. I declare, I was per- 
plexed about it the whole time we lived there, it seemed 
so perfectly anomalous." 

" And what is an English-basement house like ?" I 
ventured to ask, in interruption of the retrospective 
melancholy she had fallen into. 

" Oh, never live in an English-basement house, if 
you value your spine !" cried the lady. " An English- 
basement house is nothing hut stairs. In the first 
place, it's only one room wide, and it's a story higher 
than the high-stoop house. It's one room forward and 
one back, the whole way up; and in an English-base- 
ment it's always up, and never down. If I had my 
way, there wouldn't one stone be left upon another in 
the English-basements in ISew York." 

I have suffered Mrs. Makely to be nearly as explicit 
to you as she was to me; for the kind of house she 
described is of the form ordinarily prevailing in all 
American cities, and you can form some idea from it 
how city people live here. I ought perhaps to tell you 
that such a house is fitted with every housekeeping 
convenience, and that there is hot and cold water 
throughout, and gas every^vhere. It has fireplaces in 
all the rooms, where fires are often kept burning for 
pleasure ; but it is really heated from a furnace in the 
basement, through large pipes carried to the different 
stories, and opening into them by some such registers 
as we use. The separate houses sometimes have steam- 
heating, but not often. They each have their drainage 

29 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

into the sewer of the street, and this is trapped and 
trapped again, as in the houses of our old plutocratic 
cities, to keep the poison of the sewer from getting into 
the houses. 



VIII 

You will be curious to know something concerning 
the cost of living in such a house, and you may be sure 
that I did not fail to question Mrs. Makely on this 
point. She was at once very volubly communicative; 
she told me all she knew, and, as her husband said, a 
great deal more. 

" Why, of course," she began, " you can spend all 
you have in ISTew York, if you like, and people do 
spend fortunes every year. But I suppose you mean 
the average cost of living in a brown-stone house, in a 
good block, that rents for $1800 or $2000 a year, with 
a family of three or four children, and two servants. 
Well, what should you say, Dick V 

" Ten or twelve thousand a year — fifteen," answered 
her husband. 

" Yes, fully that," she answered, with an effect of 
disappointment in his figures. " We had just our- 
selves, and we never spent less than seven, and we 
didn't dress, and we didn't entertain, either, to speak 
of. But you have to live on a certain scale, and gener- 
ally you live up to your income." 

" Quite," said Mr. Makely. 

" I don't know what makes it cost so. Provisions 
are cheap enough, and they say people live in as good 
style for a third less in London. There used to be a 
superstition that you could live for less in a flat, and 
they always talk to you about the cost of a furnace, 
and a man to tend it and keep the snow shovelled off 
3 31 



THKOUGII THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

your sidewalk, but that is all stuff. Five hundred 
dollars will make up the whole ditfereuce, and more. 
You pay quite as much rent for a decent flat, and then 
you don't get half the room. No, if it wasn't for the 
stairs, I wouldn't live in a flat for an instant. But that 
makes all the difference." 

" And the young people," I urged — " those who are 
just starting in life — how do they manage ? Say when 
the husband has $1500 or $2000 a year?" 

" Poor things !" she returned. " I don't know how 
they manage. They board till they go distracted, or 
they dry up and blow away; or else the wife has a 
little money, too, and they take a small flat and ruin 
themselves. Of course, they want to live nicely and 
like other people." 

" But if they didn't ?" 

" Why, then they could live delightfully. My hus- 
band says he often wishes he was a master-mechanic 
in 'New York, with a thousand a year, and a flat for 
twelve dollars a month; he would have the best time 
in the world." 

Her husband nodded his acquiescence. " Fighting- 
cock wouldn't be in it," he said. " Trouble is, we all 
want to do the swell thing." 

" But you can't all do it," I ventured, " and, from 
what I see of the simple, out-of-the-way neighborhoods 
in my walks, you don't all try." 

" Why, no," he said. " Some of us were talking 
about that the other night at the club, and one of the 
fellows was saying that he believed there was as much 
old-fashioned, quiet, almost countrified life in New 
York, among the great mass of the people, as you'd 
find in any city in the world. Said you met old cod- 
gers that took care of their own furnaces, just as you 
would in a town of five thousand inhabitants." 

32 



THROUGH THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

" Yes, that's all very well," said his wife ; " but 
they wouldn't be nice people. ISTice people want to 
live nicely. And so they live beyond their means or 
else they scrimp and suffer. I don't know which is 
worst." 

" But there is no obligation to do either ?" I asked. 

" Oh yes, there is," she returned. " If you've been 
born in a certain way, and brought up in a certain way, 
you can't get out of it. You simply can't. You have 
got to keep in it till you drop. Or a woman has." 

" That means the woman's husband, too," said Mr. 
Makely, with his wink for me. " Always die together." 

In fact, there is the same competition in the social 
world as in the business world; and it is the ambition 
of every American to live in some such house as the 
Kew York house; and as soon as a village begins to 
grow into a town, such houses are built. Still, the 
immensely greater number of the Americans necessari- 
ly live so simply and cheaply that such a house would 
be almost as strange to them as to an Altrurian. But 
while we should regard its furnishings as vulgar and 
unwholesome, most Americans would admire and covet 
its rich rugs or carpets, its papered walls, and thickly 
curtained windows, and all its foolish ornamentation, 
and most American women would long to have a house 
like the ordinary high-stoop Xew York house, that they 
might break their backs over its stairs, and become in- 
valids, and have servants about them to harass them 
and hate thorn. 

Of course, I put it too strongly, for there is often, 
illogically, a great deal of love between the American 
women and their domestics, though why there should 
be any at all I cannot explain, except by reference to 
that mysterious personal equation which modifies all 
conditions here. You will have mnrlo vour reflection that 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

the servants, as they are cruelly called (I have heard 
them called so in their hearing, and wondered they did 
not fly tooth and nail at the throat that nttered the 
insult), form really no part of the house, but are aliens 
in the household and the family life. In spite of this 
fact, much kindness grows up between them and the 
family, and they do not always slight the work that 
I cannot understand their ever having any heart in. 
Often they do slight it, and they insist unsparingly 
upon the scanty privileges which their mistresses seem 
to think a monstrous invasion of their own rights. The 
habit of oppression grows upon the oppressor, and you 
would find tender-hearted women here, gentle friends, 
devoted wives, loving mothers, who would be willing 
that their domestics should remain indoors, week in 
and week out, and, where they are confined in the ridic- 
ulous American flat, never see the light of day. In 
fact, though the Americans do not know it, and would 
be shocked to be told it, their servants are really slaves, 
who are none the less slaves because they cannot be 
beaten, or bought and sold except by the week or month, 
and for the price which they fix themselves, and them- 
selves receive in the form of wages. They are social 
outlaws, so far as the society of the family they serve 
is concerned, and they are restricted in the visits they 
receive and pay among themselves. They are given 
the worst rooms in the house, and they are fed with the 
food that they have prepared, only when it comes cold 
from the family table; in the wealthier houses, where 
many of them are kept, they are supplied with a 
coarser and cheaper victual bought and cooked for 
them apart from that provided for the family. They 
are subject, at all hours, to the pleasure or caprice of 
the master or mistress. Every circumstance of their 
life is an affront to that just self-respect which even 

34 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

Americans allow is the right of every human being. 
With the rich, they are said to be sometimes indolent, 
dishonest, mendacious, and all that Plato long ago 
explained that slaves must be; but in the middle-class 
families they are mostly faithful, diligent, and reli- 
able in a degree that would put to shame most men 
who hold positions of trust, and would leave many 
ladies whom they relieve of work without ground for 
comparison. 



IX 



After Mrs. Makcly had told me about the 'New 
York house, we began to talk of the domestic service, 
and I ventured to hint some of the things that I have 
so plainly said to you. She frankly consented to my 
whole view of the matter, for if she wishes to make an 
effect or gain a point she has a magnanimity that stops 
at nothing short of self-devotion. " I know it," she 
said. " You are perfectly right ; but here we are, and 
what are we to do? What do you do in Altruria, I 
should like to know?" 

I said that in Altruria we all worked, and that per- 
sonal service was honored among us like medical at- 
tendance in America ; I did not know what other com- 
parison to make ; but I said that any one in health 
would think it as unwholesome and as immoral to let 
another serve him as to let a doctor physic him. At 
this Mrs. Makely and her husband laughed so that I 
found myself unable to go on for some moments, till 
Mrs. Makely, with a final shriek, shouted to him: 
" Dick, do stop, or I shall die ! Excuse me, Mr. Ho- 
mos, but you are so deliciously funny, and I know 
you're just joking. You wont mind my laughing? 
Do go on." 

I tried to give her some notion as to how we man- 
age, in our common life, which we have simplified so 
much beyond anything that this barbarous people 
dream of; and she grew a little soberer as I went on, 
and seemed at least to believe that I was not, as her 

36 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

husband said, stuffing tliem; l)ut she ended, as they 
always do here, by saying that it might be all very 
well in Altruria, but it would never do in America, 
and that it was contrary to human nature to have so 
many things done in common. " ^STow, I'll tell you," 
she said. " After we In'oke up housekeeping in Thirty- 
third Street, we stored our furniture — " 
" Excuse me," I said. " How — stored ?" 
" Oh, I dnre say you never store your furniture in 
Altruria. But liere we have hundreds of storage ware- 
houses of all sorts and sizes, packed with furniture that 
people put into tliem when they go to Europe, or get sick 
to death of servants and the whole bother of house- 
keeping; and that's what we did; and then, as my. 
husband says, we browsed about for a year or two. 
First, we tried hotelling it, and we took a hotel apart- 
ment furnished, and dined at the hotel table, until I 
certainly thought I should go off, I got so tired of it. 
Then we hired a suite in one of the family hotels that 
there are so many of, and got out enough of our things 
to furnish it, and had our meals in our rooms; they 
let you do that for the same price, often they are rjlad 
to have you, for the dining-room is so packed. But 
everything got to tasting just the same as everything 
else, and my husband had the dyspepsia so bad he 
couldn't half attend to business, and I suffered from 
indigestion myself, cooped up in a few small rooms, 
that way ; and the dog almost died ; and finally we gave 
that up, and took an apartment, and got out our things 
— the storage cost as much as the rent of a small house 
— and put them into it, and had a caterer send in the 
meals as they do in Europe. But it isn't the same here 
as it is in Europe, and we got so sick of it in a month 
that I thought I should scream when I saw the same 
old dishes comins: on the table, dav after day. We 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

had to keep one servant — excuse me, Mr. Homos : 
domestic — anyway, to look after the table and the 
parlor and chamber work, and my husband said we 
might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and so 
we got in a cook ; and, bad as it is, it's twenty million 
times better than anything else you can do. Servants 
are a plague, but you have got to have them, and so 
I have resigned myself to the will of Providence. If 
they don't like it, neither do I, and so I fancy it's 
about as broad as it's long." I have found this is a 
; favorite phrase of Mrs. Makely's, and that it seems to 
[give her a great deal of comfort. 

" And you don't feel that there's any harm in it ?" 
I ventured to ask. 

" Harm in it ?" she repeated. " Why, aren't the 
poor things glad to get the work? What would they 
do without it ?" 

" From what I see of your conditions I should be 
afraid that they would starve," I said. 

" Yes, they can't all get places in shops or restau- 
rants, and they have to do something, or starve, as you 
say," she said ; and she seemed to think what I had said 
was a concession to her position. 

" But if it were your own case ?" I suggested. " If 
you had no alternatives but starvation and domestic 
service, you would think there was harm in it, even 
although you were glad to take a servant's place ?" 

I saw her flush, and she answered, haughtily, " You 
must excuse me if I refuse to imagine myself taking a 
servant's place, even for the sake of argument." 

" And you are quite right," I said. " Your Amer- 
ican instinct is too strong to brook even in imagination 
the indignities which seem daily, hourly, and momently 
inflicted upon servants in your system." 

To my great astonishment she seemed delighted by 

38 



TKROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

this conclusion. " Yes," she said, and she smiled 
radiantly, " and now you understand how it is that 
American girls won't go out to service, though the pay 
is so much hetter and they are so much better housed 
and fed — and everything. Besides," she added, with an 
irrelevance which always amuses her husband, though:' 
I should be alarmed by it for her sanity if I did not I 
find it so characteristic of women here, who seem to\ 
be mentally characterized by the illogicality of the 
civilization, " they're not half so good as the foreign 
servants. They've been brought up in homes of their 
own, and they're uppish, and they have no idea of 
anything but third - rate boarding - house cooking, and 
they're always hoping to get married, so that, really, 
you have no peace of your life with them." 

" And it never seems to you that the whole relation 
is wrong ?" I asked. 

" What relation ?" 

" That between maid and mistress, the hirer and the 
hireling." 

" Why, good gracious !" she burst out. " Didn't 
Christ himself say that the laborer was worthy of his 
hire ? And how would you get your work done, if 
you didn't pay for it ?" 

" It might be done for you, when you could not do 
it yourself, from affection." 

" From affection !" she returned, with the deepest 
derision. " Well, I rather think I sliaU have to do it 
myself if I want it done from affection ! But I sup- 
pose you think I ought to do it myself, as the Altru- 
rian ladies do ! I can tell you that in America it 
would be impossible for a lady to do her own work, 
and there are no intelligence-offices where you can find 
girls that want to work for love. It's as broad as it's 
long." 

39 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" It's simply business," her husband said. 

They were right, my dear friend, and I was wrong, 
strange as it must appear to you. The tie of service, 
which we think as sacred as the tie of blood, can be 
here only a business relation, and in these conditions 
service must forever be grudgingly given and grudg- 
ingly paid. There is something in it, I do not quite 
know what, for I can never place myself precisely in 
an American's place, that degi'ades the poor creatures 
who serve, so that they must not only be social out- 
casts, but must leave such a taint of dishonor on their 
work that one cannot even do it for one's self without 
a sense of outraged dignity. You might account for 
this in Europe, where ages of prescriptive wrong have 
distorted the relation out of all human wholesomeness 
and Christian loveliness ; but in America, where many, 
and perhaps most, of those who keep servants and call 
them so are but a single generation from fathers who 
earned their bread by the sweat of their brows, and from 
mothers who nobly served in all household offices, it 
is in the last degree bewildering. I can only account 
for it by that bedevilment of the entire American ideal 
through the retention of the English economy when 
the English polity was rejected. But at the heart of 
America there is this ridiculous contradiction, and it 
must remain there until the whole country is Altru- 
rianized. There is no other hope; but I did not now 
urge this point, and we turned to talk of other things, 
related to the matters we had been discussing. 

" The men," said Mrs. Makely, " get out of the 
whole bother very nicely, as long as they are single, 
and even when they're married they are apt to run off 
to the club when there's a prolonged upheaval in the 
kitchen." 

" / don't, Dolly," suggested her husband. 

40 



TIIEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" 1^0, you don't, Dick," she returned, fondly. " But 
there are not many like you." 

He went on, with a wink at me, " I never live at 
the club, except in summer, when you go away to the 
mountains." 

" Well, you know I can't very well take you with 
me," she said. 

" Oh, I couldn't leave my business, anyway," he said, 
and he laughed. 



I HAD noticed the vast and splendid club-houses in 
the best places in the city, and I had often wondered 
about their life, which seemed to me a blind groping 
towards our own, though only upon terms that forbade 
it to those who most needed it. The clubs here are 
not like our groups, the free association of sympa- 
thetic people, though one is a little more literary, or 
commercial, or scientific, or political than another; 
but the entrance to each is more or less jealously 
guarded; there is an initiation-fee, and there are an- 
nual dues, which are usually heavy enough to exclude 
all but the professional and business classes, though 
there are, of course, successful artists and authors in 
them. During the past ^\anter I visited some of the 
most characteristic, where I dined and supped with 
the members, or came alone when one of these put me 
down, for a fortnight or a month. 

They are equipped with kitchens and cellars, and 
their wines and dishes are of the best. Each is, in 
fact, like a luxurious private house on a large scale; 
outwardly they are palaces, and inwardly they have 
every feature and function of a princely residence com- 
plete, even to a certain number of guest - chambers, 
where members may pass the night, or stay indefinitely 
in some cases, and actually live at the club. The club, 
however, is known only to the cities and larger toAvns, 
in this liighly developed form ; to the ordinary, simple 
American of the country, or of the country to^ATi of five 

42 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

or ten thousand people, a New York club would be as 
strange as it would be to any Altrurian. 

" Do many of the husbands left behind in the sum- 
mer live at the club ?" I asked. 

" All that have a club do," he said. " Often there's 
a very good table d'hote dinner that you couldn't 
begin to get for the same price anywhere else; and 
there are a lot of good fellows there, and you can come 
pretty near forgetting that you're homeless, or even 
that you're married." 

He laughed, and his wife said : " You ought to be 
ashamed, Dick; and me worrying about you all the 
time I'm away, and wondering what the cook gives 
you here. Yes," she continued, addressing me, " that's 
the worst thing about the clubs. They make the men 
so comfortable that they say it's one of the principal 
obstacles to early marriages. The young men try to 
get lodgings near them, so that they can take their 
meals there, and they know they get much better things 
to eat than they could have in a house of their own at 
a great deal more expense, and so they simply don't 
think of getting married. Of course," she said, with 
that wonderful, unintentional, or at least unconscious, 
frankness of hers, " I don't blame the clubs altogether. 
There's no use denying that girls are expensively 
brought up, and that a young man has to think twice 
before taking one of them out of the kind of home she's 
used to and putting her into the kind of home he can 
give her. If the clubs have killed early marriages, 
the women have created the clubs." 

" Do women go much to them ?" I asked, choosing 
this question as a safe one. 

" Much /" she screamed. " They don't go at all ! 
They can't! They won't 7c ^ us ! To be sure, there are 
some that have rooms where ladies can go with their 

43 



THKOUGII THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

friends who are members, and have limcli or dinner; 
but as for seeing the inside of the club-house proper, 
where these great creatures " — she indicated her hus- 
band — " are sitting up, smoking and telling stories, it 
isn't to be dreamed of." 

Her husband laughed. " You wouldn't like the 
smoking, Dolly." 

" ISTor the stories, some of them," she retorted. 

"■ Oh, the stories are always first-rate," he said, and 
he laughed more than before. 

" And they never gossip at the clubs, Mr. Homos — 
never !" she added. 

" Well, hardly ever," said her husband, with an in- 
tonation that I did not understand. It seemed to be 
some sort of catch-phrase. 

" All I know," said Mrs. Makely, " is that I like to 
have my husband belong to his club. It's a nice place 
for him in summer; and very often in winter, when 
I'm dull, or going out somewhere that he hates, he can 
go dowm to his club and smoke a cigar, and come 
home just about the time I get in, and it's much bet- 
ter than worrying through the evening with a book. 
I He hates books, poor Dick!" She looked fondly at 
'him, as if this were one of the greatest merits in the 
world. " But I confess I shouldn't like him to be a 
mere club man, like some of tliem." 

" But how ?" I asked. 

" Why, belonging to five or six, or more, even ; and 
spending their whole time at them, when they're not at 
business." 

There was a pause, and Mr. Makely put on an air 
of modest worth, which he carried off with his usual 
wink towards me. I said, finally, " And if the ladies 
are not admitted to the men's clubs, why don't they 
have clubs of their own ?" 

44 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" Oh, they have — several, I believe. But who wants 
to go and meet a lot of women ? You meet enough of 
them in society, goodness knows. You hardly meet 
any one else, especially at afternoon teas. They bore 
you to death." 

Mrs. Makely's nerves seemed to lie in the direction 
of a prolongation of this subject, and I asked my next 
question a little away from it. " I wish you would 
tell me, Mrs. Makely, something about your Avay of 
provisioning your household. You said that the gro- 
cer's and butcher's man came up to the kitchen with 
your supplies — " 

" Yes, and the milkman and the iceman ; the iceman 
always puts the ice into the refrigerator; it's very con- 
venient, and quite like your own house." 

" But you go out and select the things yourself the 
day before, or in the morning ?" 

" Oh, not at all ! The men come and the cook gives 
the order; she knows pretty well what we want on the 
different days, and I never meddle with it from one 
week's end to the other, unless we have friends. The 
tradespeople send in their bills at the end of the month, 
and that's all there is of it." Her husband gave me 
one of his queer looks, and she went on : " When we 
were younger, and just beginning housekeeping, I used 
to go out and order the things myself; I used even to 
go to the big markets, and half kill myself trying to 
get things a little cheaper at one place and another, 
and waste more car-fare and lay up more doctor's bills 
than it would all come to, ten times over. I used to 
fret my life out, remembering the prices; but now, 
thank goodness, that's all over. I don't know any more 
what beef is a pound than my husband does ; if a thing 
isn't good, I send it straight back, and that puts them 
on their honor, you know, and they have to give me the 

45 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE XEEDLE 

best of everything. The bills average about the same, 
from month to month; a little more if we have com- 
pany; but if they're too outrageous, I make a fuss with 
the cook, and she scolds the men, and then it goes 
better for a while. Still, it's a great bother." 

I confess that I did not see what the bother was, 
but I had not the courage to ask, for I had already 
conceived a wholesome dread of the mystery of an 
American lady's nerves. So I merely suggested, " And 
that is the way that people usually manage ?" 

" Why," she said, " I suppose that some old-fash- 
ioned people still do their marketing, and people that 
have to look to their outgoes, and know what every 
mouthful costs them. But their lives are not worth 
having. Eveleth Strange does it — or she did do it 
when she was in the country; I dare say she won't 
M'hen she gets back — just from a sense of duty, and 
because she says that a housekeeper ought to know 
about her expenses. But I ask her who will care 
whether she knows or not ; and as for giving the money 
to the poor that she saves by spending economically, 
I tell her that the butchers and the grocers have to 
live, too, as well as the poor, and so it's as broad as it's 
long." 



XI 

I COULD not make out whether Mr. Makely approved 
of his wife's philosophy or not; I do not believe he 
thought much about it. The money probably came 
easily with him, and he let it go easily, as an American 
likes to do. There is nothing penurious or sordid about 
this curious people, so fierce in the pursuit of riches. 
When these are once gained, they seem to have no value | ^ 
to the man who has won them, and he has generally noil 
object in life but to see his womankind spend them. [{ 

This is the season of the famous Thanksgiving, 
which has now become the national holiday, but has 
no longer any savor in it of the grim Puritanism it 
sprang from. It is now appointed by the president 
and the governors of the several states, in proclama- 
tions enjoining a pious gratitude upon the people for 
their continued prosperity as a nation, and a public 
acknowledgment of the divine blessings. The bless- 
ings are supposed to be of the material sort, grouped 
in the popular imagination as good times, and it is 
hard to see what they are when hordes of men and 
women of every occupation are feeling the pinch of 
poverty in their different degrees. It is not merely 
those who have always the wolf at their doors who are 
now suffering, but those whom the wolf never threat- 
ened before; those who amuse as well as those who 
serve the rich are alike anxious and fearful, where 
they are not already in actual want ; thousands of poor 
players, as well as hundreds of thousands of poor 

47 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

laborers, are out of employment, and the winter threat' 
ens to be one of dire misery. Yet you would not 
imagine from the smiling face of things, as you would 
see it in the better parts of this great city, that there 
was a heavy heart or an empty stomach anywhere 
below it. In fact, people here are so used to seeing 
other people in want that it no longer affects them as 
reality; it is merely dramatic, or hardly so lifelike as 
that — it is merely histrionic. It is rendered still more 
spectacular to the imaginations of the fortunate by the 
melodrama of charity they are invited to take part in 
by endless appeals, and their fancy is flattered by the 
notion that they are curing the distress they are only 
slightly relieving by a gift from their superfluity. The 
charity, of course, is better than nothing, but it is a 
fleeting mockery of the trouble, at the best. If it were 
proposed that the city should subsidize a theatre at 
whicli the idle players could get employment in pro- 
ducing good plays at a moderate cost to the people, 
the notion would not be considered more ridiculous than 
that of founding municipal works for the different 
sorts of idle workers; and it would not be thought 
half so nefarious, for the proposition to give work by 
the collectivity is supposed to be in contravention of 
I the sacred principle of monopolistic competition so 
dear to the American economist, and it would be de- 
nounced as an approximation to the surrender of the 
city to anarchism and destruction by dynamite. 

But as I have so often said, the American life is in 
no wise logical, and you will not be surprised, though 
you may be shocked or amused, to learn that the fes- 
tival of Thanksgiving is now so generally devoted to 
witnessing a game of football between the elevens 
of two great universities that the services at the 
churches are very scantily attended. The Americans 

48 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

are practical, if they are not logical, and this prefer- 
ence of football to prayer and praise on Thanksgiving- 
day has gone so far that now a principal clmrch in the 
city holds its services on Thanksgiving - eve, so that 
the worshippers may not be tempted to keep away from 
their favorite game. 

There is always a heavy dinner at home after the 
game, to console the friends of those who have lost 
and to heighten the joy of the winning side, among 
the comfortable peopie. The poor recognize the day 
largely as a sort of carnival. They go about in mas- 
querade on the eastern avenues, and the children of 
the foreign races who populate that quarter penetrate 
the better streets, blowing horns and begging of the 
passers. They have probably no more sense of its dif- 
ference from the old carnival of Catholic Europe than 
from the still older Saturnalia of pagan times. Per- 
haps you will say that a masquerade is no more pagan 
than a football game; and I confess that I have a 
pleasure in that innocent misapprehension of the holi- 
day on the East Side. I am not more censorious of 
it than I am of the displays of festival cheer at the 
provision-stores or green-groceries throughout the city 
at this time. They are almost as numerous on the 
avenues as the drinking-saloons, and, thanks to them, 
the wasteful housekeeping is at least convenient in a 
high degree. The waste is inevitable with the system 
of separate kitchens, and it is not in provisions alone, 
but in labor and in time, a hundred cooks doing the 
work of one; but the Americans have no conception 
of our co-operative housekeeping, and so the folly 
goes on. 

Meantime the provision - stores add much to their 
effect of crazy gayety on the avenues. The variety 
and harmony of colors is very great, and this morn- 

49 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

ing I stood so long admiring the arrangement in 
one of them that I am afraid I rendered myself 
a little suspicious to the policeman guarding the 
liquor-store on the nearest corner; there seems always 
to be a policeman assigned to this duty. The display 
was on either side of the provisioner's door, and be- 
gan, on one hand, Avith a basal line of pumpkins well 
out on the sidewalk. Then it was built up with the 
soft white and cool green of cauliflowers and open 
boxes of red and white grapes, to the window that 
flourished in banks of celery and rosy apples. On the 
other side, gray-green squashes formed the foundation, 
and the wall was sloped upward with the delicious 
salads you can find here, the dark red of beets, the 
yellow of carrots, and the blue of cabbages. The asso- 
ciation of colors was very artistic, and even the line of 
mutton carcases overhead, with each a brace of grouse 
or lialf a dozen quail in its embrace, and flanked with 
long sides of beef at the four ends of the line, was 
picturesque, though the sight of the carnage at the 
provision-stores here would always be dreadful to an 
Altrurian ; in the great markets it is intolerable. This 
sort of business is mostly in the hands of the Germans, 
who have a good eye for such effects as may be studied 
in it ; but the fruiterers are nearly all Italians, and 
their stalls are charming. I always like, too, the cheeri- 
ness of the chestnut and peanut ovens of the Italians ; 
the pleasant smell and friendly smoke that rise from 
them suggest a simple and homelike life which there 
are so many things in this great, weary, heedless city 
to make one forget. 



XII 



But I am allowing myself to wander too far from 
Mrs. Makely and her letter, which reached me only 
two days before Thanksgiving. 

" Mt dear Mr. Homos, — Will you give me the pleasure of 
your company at dinner, on Thanksgiving-day, at eight o'clock, 
very informally. My friend, Mrs. Bellington Strange, has un- 
expectedly returned from Europe within the week, and I am ask- 
ing a few friends, whom I can trust to excuse this very short 
notice, to meet her. 
" With Mr. Makely's best regards, 

" Youra cordially, 

"DoBOTHEA Makely. 

"The Sphinx, 

November the twenty sixth, 
Eighteen hundred and 
Ninety-three." 

I must tell you that it has been a fad with the ladies 
here to spell out their dates, and, though the fashion 
is waning, Mrs. Makely is a woman who would remain 
in such an absurdity among the very last. I will let 
you make your own conclusions concerning this, for 
though, as an Altrurian, I cannot respect her, I like 
her so much, and have so often enjoyed her generous 
hospitality, that I cannot bring myself to criticise her 
except by the implication of the facts. She is anoma- 
lous, but, to our way of thinking, all the Americans I 
have met are anomalous, and she has the merits that 
you would not logically attribute to her character. Of 
course, I cannot feel that her evident regard for me is 

51 



TllKOUaii THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

the least of these, though I like to think that it is 
founded on more reason than the rest. 

I have by this time become far too well versed in 
the polite insincerities of the plutocratic world to im- 
agine that, because she asked me to come to her din- 
ner very informally, I was not to come in all the state 
I could put into my dress. You know what the even- 
ing dress of men is here, from the costumes in our 
museum, and you can well believe that I never put on 
those ridiculous black trousers without a sense of their 
grotesqueness — that scrap of waistcoat reduced to a mere 
rim, so as to show the whole white breadth of the 
starched shirt-bosom, and that coat chopped away till 
it seems nothing but tails and lapels. It is true that I 
might go out to dinner in our national costume; in 
fact, Mrs. Makely has often begged me to wear it, for 
she says the Chinese wear theirs ; but I have not cared 
to make the sensation which I must if I wore it; my 
outlandish views of life and my frank study of their 
customs signalize me quite sufficiently among the 
Americans. 

At the hour named I appeared in Mrs. Makely's 
drawing-room in all the formality that I knew her 
invitation, to come very informally, really meant. I 
found myself the first, as I nearly always do, but I 
had only time for a word or two with my hostess be- 
fore the others began to come. She hastily explained 
that as soon as she knew Mrs. Strange was in 'New 
York she had despatched a note telling her that I was 
still here; and that as she could not get settled in time 
to dine at home, she must come and take Thanksgiving 
dinner with her. " She will have to go out with Mr. 
Makely ; but I am going to put you next to her at 
table, for I want you both to have a good time. But 
don't you forget that you are going to take one out." 

52 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

I said that I sliould certainly not forget it, and I 
showed her the envelope with mj name on the outside, 
and hers on a card inside, which the serving-man at 
the door had given me in the hall, as the first token 
that the dinner was to be unceremonious. 

She laughed, and said : " I've had the luck to pick 
up two or three other agTeeable people that I know 
will be glad to meet you. Usually it's such a scratch 
lot at Thanksgiving, for everybody dines at home that 
can, and you have to trust to the highways and the 
byways for your guests, if you give a dinner. But I 
did want to bring Mrs. Strange and you together, and 
so I chanced it. Of course, it's a sent-in dinner, as 
you must have inferred from the man at the door; 
I've given my servants a holiday, and had Claret's 
people do the whole thing. It's as broad as it's long, 
and, as my husband says, you might as well be hung 
for a sheep as a lamb ; and it saves bother. Everybody 
will know it's sent in, so that nobody will be deceived. 
There'll be a turkey in it somewhere, and cranberry 
sauce; I've insisted on that; but it won't be a regular 
American Thanksgiving dinner, and I'm rather sorry, 
on your account, for I w^anted you to see one, and I 
meant to have had you here, just with ourselves ; but 
Eveleth Strange's coming back put a new face on 
things, and so I've gone in for this affair, which isn't 
at all what you would like. That's the reason I tell 
you at once it's sent in." 



/ 



XIII 

I AM SO often at a loss for the connection in Mrs. 
Makely's ideas that I am more patient with, her inco- 
herent jargon than you will be, I am afraid. It went 
on to much the effect that I have tried to report until 
the moment she took the hand of the guest who came 
next. They arrived, imtil there were eight of us in 
all, Mrs. Strange coming last, with excuses for being 
late. I had somehow figured her as a person rather 
mystical and recluse in appearance, perhaps on account 
of her name, and I had imagined her tall and superb. 
But she was, really, rather small, though not below 
the woman's average, and she had a face more round 
than otherwise, with a sort of business-like earnest- 
ness, but a very charming smile, and presently, as I 
saw, an American sense of humor. She had brown 
hair and gray eyes, and teeth not too regular to be 
monotonous; her mouth was very sweet, whether she 
laughed or sat gravely silent. She at once affected 
me like a person who had been sobered beyond her 
nature by responsibilities, and had steadily strength- 
ened under the experiences of life. She was dressed 
with a sort of personal taste, in a rich gown of black 
lace, which came up to her throat; and she did not 
subject me to that embarrassment I always feel in the 
presence of a lady who is much decolletee, when I sit 
next her or face to face with her: I cannot always 
look at her without a sense of taking an immodest ad- 
vantage. Sometimes I find a kind of pathos in this 

54 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

sacrifice of fashion, which affects me as if the poor lady 
were wearing that sort of gown because she thought 
she really ought, and then I keep my eyes firmly on 
hers, or avert them altogether ; but there are other cases 
which have not this appealing quality. Yet in the 
very worst of the cases it would be a mistake to sup- 
pose that there was a display personally meant of 
the display personally made. Even then it would be 
found that the gown was worn so because the dress- 
maker had made it so, and, whether she had made it 
in this comitry or in Europe, that she had made it in 
compliance with a European custom. In fact, all the 
society customs of the Americans follow some Euro- 
pean original, and usually some English original; and 
it is only fair to say that in this particular custom 
they do not go to the English extreme. 

We did not go out to dinner at Mrs. Makely's by 
the rules of English precedence, because there are 
nominally no ranks here, and we could not; but I am 
sure it will not be long before the Americans will be- 
gin playing at precedence just as they now play at the 
other forms of aristocratic society. Eor the present, 
however, there was nothing for us to do but to pro- 
ceed, when dinner was served, in such order as offered 
itself, after Mr. Makely gave his arm to Mrs. Strange ; 
though, of course, the white shoulders of the other 
ladies went gleaming out before the white shoulders of 
Mrs. Makely shone beside my black ones. I have 
now become so iised to these observances that they 
no longer affect me as they once did, and as I sup- 
pose my account of them must affect you, pain- 
fully, comically. But I have always the sense of 
having a part in amateur theatricals, and I do not see 
how the Americans can fail to have the same sense, 
for there is nothing spontaneous in them, and nothing 

55 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

that lias grown eveu dramatically out of their own 
life. 

Often when I admire the perfection of the stage- 
setting, it is with a vague feeling that I am derelict in 
not offering it an explicit applause. In fact, this is 
permitted in some sort and measure, as now when we 
sat down at Mrs. Makely's exquisite table, and the 
ladies frankly recognized her touch, in it. One of them 
found a phrase for it at once, and pronounced it a 
symphony in chrysanthemums; for the color and the 
character of these flowers played through all the ap- 
pointments of the table, and rose to a magnificent 
finale in the vast group in the middle of the board, 
infinite in their caprices of tint and design. Another 
lady said that it was a dream, and then Mrs. Makely 
said, " 'No, a memory," and confessed that sbe had 
studied the effect from her recollection of some tables 
at a chrysanthemum show held here year before last, 
which seemed failures because they were so simply and 
crudely adapted in the china and napery to merely one 
kind and color of the flower. 

" Then," she added, " I wanted to do something very 
chrysanthemummy, becauce it seems to me the Thanks- 
giving flower, and belongs to Thanksgiving quite as 
much as holly belongs to Christmas." 

Everybody applauded her intention, and they hungri- 
ly fell to upon the excellent oysters, with her warning 
that we had better make the most of everything in its 
turn, for she had conformed lier dinner to the brevity 
of the notice she had given her guests. 



XIV 



T .^^'^ "^ *^'^ '^^''''^^ '^^' I ^^'^11 try to tell you, for 
I thmk that It will interest jou to knoAv what people 
here hmk a very simple dinner. That is, people of 
any degree of fashion; for the unfashionable Amer- 
icans, who are innumerably in the majority, have no 
more than the Altrurians, seen snch a dinner as ilrs. 
JVlakely s. This sort generally sit down to a single dish 
of meat, with two or three vegetables, and they drink 
tea or coffee, or water only, with their dinner. Even 
when they have company, as they say, the things are 
all put on the table at once; and the average of Amer- 
icans who have seen a dinner served in courses, after 
the Kussian manner, invariable in the fine world here 
IS not greater than those who have seen a serving-man 
m ivery Among these the host piles up his guest's 
plate with meat and vegetables, and it is passed from 
hand to hand till it reaches him; his drink arrives from 
the hostess by the same means. One maid serves the 
table m a better class, and two maids in a class still 
better; It is only when you reach people of verv decided 
torm that you find a man in a black coat behind your 
chair; Mrs. Makely, mindful of the informality of 
her dinner in everything, had two men 

I should say the difference between the Altrurians 
and the unfashionable Americans, in view of such a 
dinner as she gave us, would be that, while it would 
seem to^ us abominable for its extravagance, and re- 
volting m Its appeals to appetite, it would seem to most 

57 



TimOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

of such Americans altogether admirable and enviable, 
and would appeal to their ambition to give such a din- 
ner themselves as soon as ever they could. 

Well, with our oysters we had a delicate French 
wine, though I am told that formerly Spanish wines 
were served. A delicious soup followed the oysters, 
and then we had fish with sliced cucumbers dressed 
with oil and vinegar, like a salad ; and I suppose you 
will ask what we could possibly have eaten more. But 
this was only the beginning, and next there came a 
course of sweetbreads with green pease. With this the 
champagne began at once to flow, for Mrs. Makely was 
nothing if not original, and she had champagtie very 
promptly. One of the gentlemen praised her for it, 
and said yon could not have it too soon, and he had 
secretly hoped it would have begun with the oysters. 
ISText, we had a remove — a tenderloin of beef, with 
mushrooms, fresh, and not of the canned sort which it 
is usually accompanied with. This fact won our host- 
ess more compliments from the gentlemen, which could 
not have gratified her more if she had dressed and 
cooked the dish herself. She insisted upon our trying 
the stewed terrapin, for, if it did come in a little 
by the neck and shoulders, it was still in place at a 
Thanksgiving dinner, because it Avas so American ; and 
the stuffed peppers, which, if they were not American, 
were at least Mexican, and originated in the kitchen 
of a sister republic. There were one or two other side- 
dishes, and, with all, the burgundy began to be poured 
out. 

Mr. Makely said that claret all came now from Cali- 
fornia, no matter Avhat French chateau they named it 
after, but burgundy you could not err in. His guests 
were now drinking the different wines, and to much 
the same effect, I should think, as if they had mixed 

58 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

them all in one cup ; though I ought to say that several 
of the ladies took no wine, and kept me in countenance 
after the first taste I was obliged to take of each, in 
order to pacify my host. 

You must know that all the time there were plates 
of radishes, olives, celery, and roasted almonds set 
about that every one ate of without much reference to 
the courses. The talking and the feasting were at their 
height, but there was a little flagging of the appetite, 
perhaps, when it received the stimulus of a water-ice 
flavored with rum. After eating it I immediately 
experienced an extraordinary revival of my hunger (I 
am ashamed to confess that I was gorging myself like 
the rest), but I quailed inwardly when one of the men- 
servants set down before Mr. Makely a roast turkey 
that looked as large as an ostrich. It was received 
with cries of joy, and one of the gentlemen said, " Ah, 
Mrs. Makely, I was waiting to see how you would in- 
terpolate the turkey, but you never fail. I knew you 
would get it in somewhere. But where," he added, in 
a burlesque whisper, behind his hand, " are the — " 

" Canvasback duck ?" she asked, and at that moment 
the servant set before the anxious inquirer a platter 
of these renowned birds, which you know something 
of already from the report our emissaries have given of 
their cult among the Americans. 

Every one laughed, and after the gentleman had 
made a despairing flourish over them with a carving- 
knife in emulation of Mr. Makely's emblematic at- 
tempt upon the turkey, both were taken away and 
carved at a sideboard. They were then served in slices, 
the turkey with cranberry sauce, and the ducks with 
currant jelly; and I noticed that no one took so much 
of the turkey that he could not suffer himself to be 
helped also to the duck. I must tell you that there was 

59 



TIIKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

a salad with the duck, and after that there was an ice- 
cream, with fruit and all manner of candied fruits, 
and candies, different kinds of cheese, coffee, and li- 
queurs to drink after the coft'ee. 

" Well, now," ]\Irs. Makely proclaimed, in high de- 
light with her triumph, " I must let you imagine the 
pumpkin - pie. I meant to have it, because it isn't 
really Thanksgiving without it. But I couldn't, for 
the life of me, see where it would come in." 



XV 



The sally of the hostess made them all laugh, and 
they began to talk about the genuine American char- 
acter of the holiday, and what a fine thing it was to 
have something truly national. They praised Mrs. 
Makely for thinking of so many American dishes, and 
the facetious gentleman said that she rendered no 
greater tribute than was due to the overruling Provi- 
dence which had so abundantly bestowed them upon 
the Americans as a people. " You must have been 
glad, Mrs. Strange," he said to the lady at my side, 
" to get back to our American oysters. There seems 
nothing else so potent to bring us home from Europe." 

" I'm afraid," she answered, " that I don't care so 
much for the American oyster as I should. But I am 
certainly glad to get back." 

" In time for the turkey, perhaps ?" 

" Xo, I care no more for the turkey than for the 
oyster of my native land," said the lady. 

" Ah, well, say the canvasback duck, then ? The can- 
vasback duck is no alien. He is as thoroughly Amer- 
ican as the turkey, or as any of us." 

" 'Eo, I should not have missed him, either," per- 
sisted the lady. 

" WTiat could one have missed," the gentleman said, 
with a bow to the hostess, " in the dinner Mrs. Makely 
has given us? If there had been nothing, I should 
not have missed it," and when the laugh at his droll- 
ing had subsided he asked Mrs. Strange : " Then, if it 

61 



THROUGH THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

is not too indiscreet, might I inquire what in the world 
has lured you again to our shores, if it was not the 
oyster, nor the turkey, nor yet the canvasback ?" 

" The American dinner - party," said the lady, with 
the same burlesque. 

" Well," he consented, " I think I understand you. 
It is different from the English dinner-party in being 
a festivity rather than a solemnity; though, after all, 
the American dinner is only a condition of the Eng- 
lish dinner. Do you find us much changed, Mrs. 
Strange ?" 

" I think we are every year a little more European," 
said the lady. " One notices it on getting home." 

" I supposed we Avere so European already," re- 
turned the gentleman, " that a European landing 
among us would think he had got back to his starting- 
point in a sort of vicious circle. I am myself so thor- 
oughly Europeanized in all my feelings and instincts 
that, do you know, Mrs. Makely, if I may confess it 
without offence — " 

" Oh, by all means !" cried the hostess. 

" When that vast bird which we have been praising, 
that colossal roast turkey, appeared, I felt a shudder 
go through my delicate substance, such as a refined 
Englishman might have experienced at the sight, and 
I said to myself, quite as if I were not one of you, 
" Good Heavens ! now they will begin talking through 
their noses and eating with their knives. It's what I 
might have expected !" 

It was impossible not to feel that this gentleman 
was talking at me; if the Americans have a foreign 
guest, they always talk at him more' or less ; and I was 
not surprised when he said, " I think our friend, Mr. 
Homos, will conceive my fine revolt from the crude 
period of our existence which the roast turkey marks 

62 



TimOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

as distinctly as the grafjiti of the cave-dweller proclaim 
his epoch." 

" No," I protested, " I am afraid that I have not the 
documents for the interpretation of your emotion. I 
hope you will take pity on my ignorance and tell me 
just what you mean." 

The others said they none of them knew, either, and 
would like to know, and the gentleman began by say- 
ing that he had been going over the matter in his mind 
on his way to dinner, and he had really been trying 
to lead up to it ever since we sat down. " I've been 
struck, first of all, by the fact, in our evolution, that 
we haven't socially evolved from ourselves; we've 
evolved from the Europeans, from the English. I 
don't think you'll find a single society rite with us now 
that had its origin in our peculiar national life, if we 
have a peculiar national life; I doubt it, sometimes. 
If you begin with the earliest thing in the day, if you 
begin with breakfast, as society gives breakfasts, you 
have an English breakfast, though American people and 
provisions." 

" I must say, I think they're both much nicer," said 
Mrs. Makely. 

" Ah, there I am with you ! We borrow the form, 
but we infuse the spirit. I am talking about the form, 
though. Then, if you come to the society lunch, which 
is almost indistinguishable from the society breakfast, 
you have the English lunch, which is really an under- 
sized English dinner. The afternoon tea is English 
again, with its troops of eager females and stray, re- 
luctant males ; though I believe there are rather more 
men at the English teas, owing to the larger leisure 
class in England. The afternoon tea and the ' at 
home ' are as nearly alike as the breakfast and the 
lunch. Then, in the course of time, we arrive at the 
5 63 



TllKOUGli THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

great society function, the dinner; and what is the 
dinner with lis but the dinner of our mother - coun- 
try?" 

" It is livelier," suggested Mrs. llakely, again. 

" Livelier, I grant you, but I am still speaking of 
the form, and not of the spirit. The evening recep- 
tion, which is gradually fading away, as a separate 
rite, with its supper and its dance, we now have as 
the English have it, for the people who have not been 
asked to dinner. The ball, which brings us round to 
breakfast again, is again the ball of our Anglo-Saxon 
kin beyond the seas. In short, from the society point 
of view we are in everything their mere rinsings." 

"E"othing of the kind!" cried Mrs. Makely. "I 
won't let you say such a thing ! On Thanksgiving-day, 
too! Why, there is the Thanksgiving dinner itself! 
If that isn't purely American, I should like to know 
what is." 

" It is purely American, but it is strictly domestic ; 
it is not society. E'obody but some great soul like you, 
Mrs. Makely, would have the courage to ask anybody 
to a Thanksgiving dinner, and even you ask only such 
easy-going house-friends as we are proud to be. You 
wouldn't think of giving a dinner-party on Thanks- 
giving ?" 

" 'No, 1 certainly shouldn't. I should think it was 
very presuming ; and you are all as nice as you can be 
to have come to-day; I am not the only great soul at 
the table. But that is neither here nor there. Thanks- 
giving is a purely American thing, and it's more popu- 
lar than ever. A few years ago you never heard of it 
outside of l^ew England." 

The gentleman laughed. " You are perfectly right, 
Mrs. Makely, as you always are. Thanksgiving is 
purely American. So is the corn-husking, so is the 

64 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE XEEDLE 

apple-bee, so is the sugar-party, so is the spelling-match, 
so is the church-sociable ; but none of these have had 
their evolution in our society entertainments. The 
'New Year's call was also purely American, but that is 
now as extinct as the dodo, though I believe the other 
American festivities are still known in the rural dis- 
tricts." 

" Yes," said Mrs. Makely, " and I think it's a great 
shame that we can't have some of them in a refined 
form in society. I once went to a sugar-party up in 
JSTew Hampshire when I was a girl, and I never en- 
joyed myself so much in my life. I should like to 
make up a party to go to one somewhere in the Cats- 
kills in March. Will you all go? It would be some- 
thing to show Mr. Homos. I should like to show 
him something really American before he goes home. 
There's nothing American left in society!" 

'' You forget the American woman," suggested the 
gentleman. " She is always American, and she is al- 
ways in society." 

" Yes," returned our hostess, with a thoughtful air, 
" you're quite right in that. One always meets more 
women than men in society. But it's because the men 
are so lazy, and so comfortable at their clubs, they 
won't go. They enjoy themselves well enough in so- 
ciety after they get there, as I tell my husband when 
he grumbles over having to dress." 

" Well," said the gentleman, '' a great many things, 
the day-time things, we really can't come to, because 
we don't belong to the aristocratic class, as you ladies 
do, and we are busy dovm. - to"\\m. But I don't think 
we are reluctant about dinner; and the young fellows 
are nearly always willing to go to a ball, if the sup- 
per's good and it's a house where they don't feel 
obliged to dance. But what do you think, Mr. Ho- 

65 



THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

mos ?" he asked. " How does your observation coin- 
cide with my experience ?" 

I answered that I hardly felt myself qualified to 
speak, for though I had assisted at the different kinds 
of society rites he had mentioned, thanks to the hos- 
pitality of my friends in ISTew York, I knew the Eng- 
lish functions only from a very brief stay in England 
on my way here, and from what I had read of them in 
English fiction and in tlie relations of our emissaries. 
He inquired into our emissary system, and the com- 
pany appeared greatly interested in such account of 
it as I could briefly give. 

" Well," he said, " that would do while you kept 
it to yourselves ; but now that your country is known 
to the plutocratic world, your public documents will 
be apt to come back to the countries your emis- 
saries have visited, and make trouble. The first 
thing you know some of our bright reporters will get 
on to one of your emissaries, and interview him, 
and then we shall get what you think of us at first 
hands. By - the - by, have you seen any of those 
primitive social delights which Mrs. Makely regrets 
so much?" 

" I !" our hostess protested. But then she perceived 
that he was joking, and she let me answer. 

I said that I had seen them nearly all, during the 
past year, in ^ew England and in the West, but they 
appeared to me inalienable of the simpler life of the 
country, and that I was not surprised they should not 
have found an evolution in the more artificial society 
of the cities. 

" I see," he returned, " that you reserve your opin- 
ion of our more artificial society; but you may be 
sure that our reporters will get it out of you yet be- 
fore you leave us." 

66 



THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" Those horrid reporters !" one of the ladies irrele- 
vantly sighed. 

The gentleman resumed : " In the mean time, I 
don't mind saying how it strikes me. I think you are 
quite right about the indigenous American things be- 
ing adapted only to the simpler life of the country and 
the smaller towns. It is so everywhere. As soon as 
people become at all refined they look down upon 
what is their own as something vulgar. But it is 
peculiarly so with us. We have nothing national that 
is not connected with the life of work, and when we 
begin to live the life of pleasure we must borrow from 
the people abroad, who have always lived the life of 
pleasure." 

" Mr. Homos, you know," Mrs. Makely explained 
for me, as if this were the aptest moment, " thinks 
we all ought to work. He thinks we oughtn't to have 
any servants." 

" Oh no, my dear lady," I put in. " I don't think 
that of you as you are. N^one of you could see more 
plainly than I do that in your conditions you must 
have servants, and that you cannot possibly work unless 
poverty obliges you." 

The other ladies had turned upon me with surprise 
and horror at Mrs. Makely's words, but they now 
apparently relented, as if I had fully redeemed my- 
self from the charge made against me. Mrs. Strange 
alone seemed to have found nothing monstrous in my 
supposed position. " Sometimes," she said, " I wish 
we had to work, all of us, and that we could be freed 
from our servile bondage to servants." 

Several of the ladies admitted that it was the great- 
est slavery in the world, and that it would be com- 
parative luxury to do one's own work. But they all 
asked, in one form or another, what were they to do, 

67 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

and Mrs. Strange owned that she did not know. The 
facetious gentleman asked me how the ladies did in 
Altruria, and when I told them, as well as I could, 
they were, of course, very civil about it, but I could 
see that they all thought it impossible, or, if not im- 
possible, then ridiculous. I did not fcol bound to 
defend our customs, and I knew very well that each 
woman there was imagining herself in our conditions 
Avith the curse of her plutocratic tradition still upon 
her. They could not do otherwise, any of them, and 
they seemed to get tired of such effort as they did 
make. 

Mrs. Makely rose, and the other ladies rose with 
her, for the Americans follow the English custom in 
letting the men remain at table after the women have 
left. But on this occasion I found it varied by a 
pretty touch from the French custom, and the men, 
instead of merely standing up while the women filed 
out, gave each his arm, as far as the drawing-room, to 
the lady he had brought in to dinner. Then we went 
back, and what is the pleasantest part of the dinner to 
most men began for us. 



XVI 

I MUST say, to the credit of the Americans, that 
although the eating and drinking among them ap- 
pear gross enongh to an Altrurian, you are not re- 
volted by the coarse stories which the English some- 
times tell as soon as the ladies have left them. If it 
is a men's dinner, or more especially a men's supper, 
these stories are pretty sure to follow the coffee; but 
when there have been women at the board, some sense 
of their presence seems to linger in the more delicate 
American nerves, and the indulgence is limited to two 
or three things off color, as the phrase is here, told 
with anxious glances at the drawing-room doors, to see 
if they are fast shut. 

I do not remember just wliat brought the talk back 
from these primrose paths to that question of Amer- 
ican society forms, but presently some one said he 
believed the church - sociable was the thing in most 
towns beyond the apple-bee and sugar-party stage, and 
this opened the inquir}^ as to how far the church still 
formed the social life of the people in cities. Some 
one suggested that in Brooklyn it formed it altogether, 
and then they laughed, for Brooklyn is always a joke 
with the ^ew- Yorkers; I do not know exactly why, 
except that this vast city is so largely a suburb, and 
that it has a great number of churches and is com- 
paratively cheap. Then another told of a lady who 
had come to ISTew York (he admitted, twenty years 
ago), and was very lonely, as she had no letters until 
she joined a church. This at once brought her a gen- 

69 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

eral acquaintance, and she began to find herself in 
society; but as soon as she did so she joined a more 
exchisive church, where they took no notice of strangers. 
They all laughed at that bit of human nature, as they 
called it, and they philosophized the relation of women 
to society as a purely business relation. The talk 
ranged to the mutable character of society, and how 
people got into it, or were of it, and how it was very 
different from what it once was, except that with 
women it was always business. They spoke of cer- 
tain new rich people with affected contempt; but I 
could see that they were each proud of knowing such 
millionaires as they could claim for acquaintance, 
though they pretended to make fun of the number of 
men - servants you had to run the gantlet of in their 
houses before you could get to your hostess. 

One of my commensals said he had noticed that I 
took little or no wine, and, when I said that we sel- 
dom drank it in Altruria, he answered that he did not 
think I could make that go in America, if I meant to 
dine much. " Dining, you know, means overeating," 
he explained, " and if you wish to overeat you must 
overdrink. I venture to say that you will pass a 
worse night than any of us, Mr. Homos, and that you 
will be sorrier to-morrow than I shall." They were 
all smoking, and I confess that tlieir tobacco was se- 
cretly such an affliction to me that I was at one moment 
in doubt whether I should take a cigar myself or ask 
leave to join the ladies. 

The gentleman who had talked so much already said : 
" Well, I don't mind dining, a great deal, especially 
with Makely, here, but I do object to supping, as I 
have to do now and then, in the way of pleasure. 
Last Saturday night I sat dovm at eleven o'clock to 
blue-point oysters, consomme, stewed terrapin — yours 

70 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

was very good, Makely; I wish I had taken more of 
it — lamb chops with pease, redhead duck with celery 
mayonnaise, iN'esselrode pudding, fruit, cheese, and 
coffee, with sausages, caviare, radishes, celery, and 
olives interspersed wildly, and drinkables and smok- 
ables ad libitum; and I can assure you that I felt very 
devout when I woke up after church-time in the morn- 
ing. It is this turning night into day that is killing 
us. We men, who have to go to business the next 
morning, ought to strike, and say that we won't go 
to anything later than eight-o'clock dinner." 

^' Ah, then the women would insist upon our making 
it four-o'clock tea," said another. 

Our host seemed to be reminded of something by 
the mention of the women, and he said, after a glance 
at the state of the cigars, " Shall we join the ladies ?" 

One of the men-servants had evidently been waiting 
for this question. He held the door open, and we all 
filed into the drawing-room. 

Mrs. Makely hailed me with, " Ah, Mr. Homos, 
I'm so glad you've come ! We poor women have been 
having a most dismal time!" 

" Honestly," asked the funny gentleman, " don't you 
always, without us ?" 

" Yes, but this has been worse than usual. Mrs. 
Strange has been asking us how many people we sup- 
posed there were in this city, within five minutes' walk 
of ITS, who had no dinner to-day. Do you call that 
kind ?" 

" A little more than kin and loss than kind, per- 
haps," the gentleman suggested. " But what does she 
propose to do about it ?" 

He turned towards ^Irs. Strange, who answered, 
" IsTothing. What does any one propose to do about 
it?" 

71 



Til ROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" Then, why do jou think about it V 

" I don't. It thinks about itself. Do you know 
that poem of Longfellow's, ' The Challenge ' ?" 

" jSTo, I never heard of it." 

" Well, it begins in his sweet old way, about some 
Spanish king who was killed before a city he was be- 
sieging, and one of his knights sallies out of the camp 
and challenges the people of the city, tlie living and 
the dead, as traitors. Then the poet breaks off, apro- 
pos de rien: 

" ' There is a greater army 

That besets lis round with strife, 
A numberless, starving army, 

At all the gates of life. 
The poverty-stricken millions 

Who challenge our wine and bread 
And impeach us all for traitors, 

Both the living and the dead. 
And whenever I sit at the banquet. 

Where the feast and song are high. 
Amid the mirth and the music 

I can hear that fearful cry. 

" ' And hollow and haggard faces 

Look into the lighted hall, 
And wasted hands are extended 

To catch the crumbs that fall. 
For within there is light and plenty. 

And odors fill the air; 
But without there is cold and darkness, 

And hunger and despair. 
And there, in the camp of famine. 

In wind and cold and rain, 
Christ, the great T^rd of the Army, 

Lies dead upon the plain.' " 

" Ah," said the facetious gentleman, " that is fine ! 
We really forget how fine Longfellow was. It is so 
pleasant to hear you quoting poetry, ]\rrs. Strange! 
That sort of thing has almost gone out; and it's a 
pity." 

72 



XVII 

Our fashion of offering hospitality on the impulse 
would be as strange here as offering it without some 
special inducement for its acceptance. The induce- 
ment is, as often as can be, a celebrity or eccentricity 
of some sort, or some visiting foreigner; and I sup- 
pose that I have been a good deal used myself in one 
quality or the other. But when the thing has been 
done, fully and guardedly at all points, it does not 
seem to have been done for pleasure, either by the 
host or the guest. The dinner is given in payment of 
another dinner; or out of ambition by people who are 
striving to get forward in society; or by great social 
figures who give regularly a certain number of din- 
ners every season. In either case it is eaten from 
motives at once impersonal and selfish. I do not mean 
to say that I have not been at many dinners where I 
felt nothing perfunctory either in host or guest, and 
where as sweet and gay a spirit ruled as at any of our 
own simple feasts. Still, I think our main impression 
of American hospitality would be that it was thor- 
oughly infused with the plutocratic principle, and that 
it meant business. 

I am speaking now of the hospitality of society 
people, who number, after all, but a few thousands 
out of the many millions of American people. These 
millions are so far from being in society, even when 
they are very comfortable, and on the way to great 
prosperity, if they are not already greatly prosperous, 

73 



TIIROUGK TnE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

that if they were suddenly confronted with the best 
society of the great Eastern cities they would find it 
almost as strange as so many Altrnrians. A great part 
of them have no conception of entertaining except upon 
an Altrurian scale of simplicity, and they know noth- 
ing and care less for the forms that society people 
value themselves upon. When they begin, in the ascent 
of the social scale, to adopt forms, it is still to wear 
them lightly and with an individual freedom and in- 
difference; it is long before anxiety concerning the 
social law renders them, vulgar. 

Yet from highest to lowest, from first to last, one 
invariable fact characterizes them all, and it may be 
laid down as an axiom that in a plutocracy the man 
who needs a dinner is the man who is never asked 
to dine. I do not say that he is not given a dinner, 
lie is very often given a dinner, and for the most 
part he is kept from starving to death ; but he is not 
suffered to sit at meat with, his host, if the person who 
gives him a meal can be called his host. His need 
of the meal stamps him with a hopeless inferiority, 
and relegates him morally to the company of the swine 
at their husks, and of Lazarus, whose sores the dogs 
licked. Usually, of course, he is not physically of 
such a presence as to fit him for any place in good 
society short of Abraham's bosom; but even if he 
were entirely decent, or of an inoffensive shabbiness, 
it would not be possible for his benefactors, in any 
grade of society, to ask him to their tables. He is some- 
times fed in the kitchen; where the people of the 
house feed in the kitchen themselves, he is fed at the 
back door. 

We were talking of this the other night at the house 
of that lady whom Mrs. Makely invited me specially 
to meet on Thanksgiving-day. It happened then, as 

74 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

it often happens here, that although I was asked to 
meet her, I saw very little of her. It was not so bad 
as it sometimes is, for I have been asked to meet peo- 
ple, very informally, and passed the whole evening 
with them, and yet not exchanged a word with them. 
Mrs. Makely really gave me a seat next Mrs. Strange 
at table, and we had some unimportant conversation; 
but there was a lively little creature vis-a-vis of me, 
who had a fancy of addressing me so much of her 
talk that my acquaintance with Mrs. Strange rather 
languished through the dinner, and she went away 
so soon after the men rejoined the ladies in the draw- 
ing-room that I did not speak to her there. I was 
rather surprised, then, to receive a note from her a few 
days later, asking me to dinner; and I finally went, 
I am ashamed to own, more from curiosity than from 
any other motive. I had been, in the mean time, thor- 
oughly coached concerning her by j\Irs. Makely, whom 
I told of my invitation, and who said, quite frankly, 
that she wished Mrs. Strange had asked her, too. 
" But Eveleth Strange wouldn't do that," she ex- 
plained, " because it would have the effect of paying 
me back. I'm so glad, on your account, that you're 
going, for I do want you to know at least one American 
woman that you can unreservedly approve of; I know 
you don't begin to approve of me; and I was so vexed 
that you really had no chance to talk with her that 
night you met her here; it seemed to me as if she ran 
away early just to provoke me; and, to tell you the 
truth, I thought she had taken a dislike to you. I wish 
I could tell you just what sort of a person she is, but 
it would be perfectly hopeless, for you haven't got the 
documents, and you never could get them. I used to 
be at school with her, and even then she wasn't like 
any of the other girls. She was always so original, 

75 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

and did things from such a high motive, that after- 
wards, when we were all settled, I was perfectly thun- 
derstruck at her marrying old Bellington Strange, who 
was twice her age and had nothing but his money; 
lie was not related to the Xew York Bellingtons at 
all, and nobody knows how he got the name; nobody 
ever heard of the Strangcs. In fact, people say that 
he used to be plain Peter B. Strange till he married 
Eveleth, and she made him drop the Peter and blos- 
som out in the Bellington, so that ho could seem to 
have a social as Avell as a financial history. People 
who dislike her insisted that they were not in the least 
surprised at her marrying him ; that the high-motive 
business was just her pose; and that she had jumped 
at the chance of getting him. But I always stuck up 
for her — and I know that she did it for the sake of 
her family, who were all as poor as poor, and were 
dependent on her after her father went to smash in his 
business. She was always as high - strung and ro- 
mantic as she could be, but I don't believe that even 
then she would have taken Mr. Strange if there had 
been anybody else. I don't suppose any one else ever 
looked at her, for the young men are pretty sharp now- 
adays, and are not going to marry girls without a cent, 
when there are so many rich girls, just as charming 
every way; you can't expect them to. At any rate, 
whatever her motive was, she had her reward, for 
Mr. Strange died within a year of their marriage, and 
she got all his money. There was no attempt to break 
the will, for Mr. Strange seemed to be literally of no 
family; and she's lived quietly on in the house he 
bought her ever since, except when she's in Europe, 
and that's about two-thirds of the time. She has her 
mother with her, and I suppose that her sisters and 
her cousins and her aunts come in for outdoor aid. 

76 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

She's always helping somebody. They say that's her 
pose, now; but, if it is, I don't think it's a bad one; 
and certainly, if she wanted to get married again, there 
would be no trouble, with her three millions. I advise 
you to go to her dinner, by all means, Mr. Homos. 
It will be something worth while, in every way, and 
perhaps you'll convert her to Altrurianism ; she's as 
hopeful a subject as I know." 



XVIII 

I WAS one of the earliest of the guests, for I cannot 
yet believe that people do not want me to come ex- 
actly when they say they do. I perceived, however, 
that one other gentleman had come before me, and I 
was both surprised and delighted to find that this was 
my acquaintance Mr. Bullion, the Boston banker. He 
professed as much pleasure at our meeting as I cer- 
tainly felt; but after a few words he went on talking 
with Mrs. Strange, while I was left to her mother, an 
elderly woman of quiet and even timid bearing, who 
affected me at once as born and bred in a wholly dif- 
ferent environment. In fact, every American of the 
former generation is almost as strange to it in tra- 
dition, though not in principle, as I am; and I found 
myself singularly at home with this sweet lady, who 
seemed glad of my interest in her. I was taken from 
her side to be introduced to a lady, on the opposite 
side of the room, who said she had been promised 
my acquaintance by a friend of hers, whom I had met 
in the mountains — Mr. Twelvemough; did I remem- 
ber him? She gave a little cry while still speaking, 
and dramatically stretched her hand towards a gentle- 
man who entered at the moment, and whom I saw to 
be no other than Mr. Twelvemough himself. As soon 
as he had greeted our hostess he hastened up to us, 
and, barely giving himself time to press the still out- 
stretched hand of my companion, shook mine warmly, 
and expressed the greatest joy at seeing me. He said 

78 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

that lie had just got back to town, in a manner, and 
had not known I was here, till Mrs. Strange had asked 
him to meet me. There were not a great many other 
guests, when they all arrived, and we sat do^vn, a party 
not much larger than at Mrs. Makely's. 

I found that I was again to take out my hostess, but 
I was put next the lady with whom I had been talk- 
ing; she had come without her husband, who was, ap- 
parently, of a different social taste from herself, and 
had an engagement of his own; there was an artist 
and his wife, whose looks I liked; some others whom 
I need not specify were there, I fancied, because they 
had heard of Altruria and were curious to see me. 
As Mr. Twelvemough sat quite at the other end of 
the table, the lady on my right could easily ask me 
whether I liked his books. She said, tentatively, peo- 
ple liked them because they felt sure when they took 
up one of his novels they had not got hold of a tract 
on political economy in disguise. 

It was this complimentary close of a remark, which 
scarcely began with praise, that made itself heard 
across the table, and was echoed with a heartfelt sigh 
from the lips of another lady. 

" Yes," she said, " that is what I find such a com- 
fort in Mr. Twelvemough's books." 

" We were speaking of Mr. Twelvemough's books," 
the first lady triumphed, and several began to extol 
them for being fiction pure and simple, and not deal- 
ing with anything but loves of young people. 

Mr. Twelvemough sat looking as modest as he could 
under the praise, and one of the ladies said that in a 
novel she had lately read there was a description of a 
surgical operation that made her feel as if she had 
been present at a clinic. Then the author said that 
he had read that passage, too, and found it extreme- 
6 ^ Y9 



THKOUGil THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

]y well done. It was fascinating, but it was not 
art. 

The painter asked, Whv was it not art ? 

The author answered, Well, if such a thing as that 
was art, then anything that a man chose to do in a 
work of imagination was art. 

" Precisely," said the painter — " art is choice." 

" On that ground," the banker interposed, " you 
could say that political economy was a fit subject for 
art, if an artist chose to treat it." 

" It would have its difficulties," the painter admit- 
ted, " but there are certain phases of political economy, 
dramatic moments, human moments, which might be 
very fitly treated in art. For instance, who would 
object to Mr. Twelvemough's describing an eviction 
from an East Side tenement-house on a cold winter 
night, with the mother and her children huddled about 
the fire the father had kindled with pieces of the house- 
hold furniture ?" 

" I should object very much, for one," said the lady 
who had objected to the account of the surgical oper- 
ation. " It would be too creepy. Art should give 
pleasure." 

" Then you think a tragedy is not art ?" asked the 
painter. 

" I think that these harrowing subjects are brought 
in altogether too much," said the lady. " There are 
enough of them in real life, without filling all the 
novels with them. It's terrible the number of beggars 
you meet on the street, this winter. Do you want to 
meet them in Mr. Twelvemough's novels, too ?" 

" Well, it wouldn't cost me any money there. I 
shouldn't have to give." 

" You oughtn't to give money in real life," said 
the lady. " You ought to give charity tickets. If 

80 



THEOUGII THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

tho beggars refuse tlieiii, it shows tliej are impos- 
tors." 

" It's some comfort to know that the charities are 
so active," said the elderly yoimg lady, " even if half 
the letters one gets do turn out to be appeals from 
them." 

" It's very disappointing to have them do it, though," 
said the artist, lightly, " I thought there was a society 
to abolish poverty. That doesn't seem to be so ac- 
tive as the charities this winter. Is it possible they've 
found it a failure ?" 

" Well," said Mr. Bullion, " perhaps they have sus- 
pended during the hard times." 

They tossed the ball back and forth with a lightness 
the Americans have, and I could not have believed, if 
I had not known how hardened people become to such 
things here, that they were almost in the actual pres- 
ence of hunger and cold. It was within five minutes' 
walk of their warmth and surfeit; and if they had 
lifted the window and called, " Who goes there ?" the 
houselessness that prowls the night could have answer- 
ed them from the street below, " Despair !" 

" I had an amusing experience," Mr. Twelvemough 
began, " when I was doing a little visiting for the 
charities in our ward, the other winter." 

" For the sake of the literary material ?" the artist 
suggested. 

" Partly for the sake of the literary material ; you 
know we have to look for our own everywhere. But 
we had a case of an old actor's son, wlio had got out 
of all the places he had filled, on account of rheuma- 
tism, and could not go to sea, or drive a truck, or even 
wrap gas-fixtures in paper any more." 

" A checkered employ," the banker mused aloud. 

" It was not of a simultaneous nature," the novelist 
SI 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

explained. " So he came on the charities, and, as I 
knew the theatrical profession a little, and how gener- 
ous it was with all related to it, I said that I would 
undertake to look after his case. You know the theory 
is that we get work for our patients, or clients, or 
whatever they are, and I went to a manager whom I 
knew to be a good fellow, and I asked him for some 
sort of work. He said. Yes, send the man round, and 
he would give him a job copying parts for a new play 
he had written." 

The novelist paused, and nobody laughed. 

" It seems to me that your experience is instructive, 
rather than amusing," said the banker. " It shows 
that something can be done, if you try." 

" Well," said Mr. Twelvemongh, " I thought that was 
the moral, myself, till the fellow came afterwards to 
thank me. He said that he considered himself very 
lucky, for the manager had told him that there were 
six other men had wanted that job." 

Everybody laughed now, and I looked at my host- 
ess in a little bewilderment. She murmured, " I sup- 
pose the joke is that he had befriended one man at the 
expense of six others." 

" Oh," I returned, " is that a joke ?" 

'No one answered, but tlie lady at my right asked, 
" How do you manage with poverty in Altruria ?" 

I saw the banker fix a laughing eye on me, but I 
answered, " In Altruria we have no poverty." 

"Ah, I knew you would say that!" he cried out. 
" That's what he always does," he explained to the 
lady. " Bring up any one of our little difficulties, and 
ask how they get over it in Altruria, and he says they 
have nothing like it. It's very simple." 

They all began to ask me questions, but with a 
courteous incredulity which I could feel well enough, 

82 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

and some of mj answers made them laugh, all but my 
hostess, who received them with a gravity that finally 
prevailed. But I was not disposed to go on talking 
of Altruria then, though they all protested a real in- 
terest, and murmured against the hardship of being 
cut off with so brief an account of our country as I had 
given them. 

" Well," said the banker at last, " if there is no 
cure for our poverty, we might as well go on and enjoy 
ourselves." 

" Yes," said our hostess, with a sad little smile, " we 
might as well enjoy ourselves." 



XIX 

The talk at Mrs. Strange's table took a far wider 
range than my meagre notes would intimate, and we 
sat so long tliat it was almost eleven before the men 
joined the ladies in the drawing-room. You will hard- 
ly conceive of remaining two, three, or four hours at 
dinner, as one often does here, in society; out of so- 
ciety the meals are despatched Avith a rapidity un- 
known to the Altrurians. Our habit of listening to 
lectors, especially at the evening repast, and then of 
reasoning upon what we have heard, prolongs our stay 
at the board; but the fondest listener, the greatest 
talker among us, would be impatient of the delay eked 
out here by the great number and the slow procession 
of the courses served. Yet the poorest American would 
find his ideal realized rather in the long-drawn-out 
gluttony of the society dinner here than in our tem- 
perate simplicity. 

At such a dinner it is very hard to avoid a surfeit, 
and I have to guard myself very carefully, lest, in the 
excitement of the talk, I gorge myself with ever\i;hing, 
in its turn. Even at the best, my overloaded stomach 
often joins with my conscience in reproaching me for 
what you would think a shameful excess at table. Yet, 
wicked as my riot is, my waste is worse, and I have to 
think, with contrition, not only of what I have eaten, 
but of what I have left uneaten, in a city where so many 
wake and sleep in hunger. 

The ladies made a show of lingering after we joined 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

them in the drawing - room ; but there were furtive 
glances at the clock, and presently her guests began 
to bid Mrs. Strange good-night. When I came up and 
offered her my hand, she would not take it, but mur- 
mured, with a kind of passion : " Don't go ! I mean 
it ! Stay, and tell us about Altruria — my mother and 
me!" 

I was by no means loath, for I must confess that all 
I had seen and heard of this lady interested me in 
her more and more. I felt at home with her, too, as 
with no other society woman I have met; she seemed 
to me not only good, but very sincere, and very good- 
hearted, in spite of the world she lived in. Yet I have 
met so many disappointments here, of the kind that 
our civilization wholly fails to prepare us for, that 
I should not have been surprised to find that Mrs. 
Strange had wished me to stay, not that she might hear 
me talk about Altruria, but that I might hear her talk 
about herself. You must understand that the essential 
vice of a system which concentres a human being's 
thoughts upon his o^vn interests, from the first moment 
of responsibility, colors and qualifies every motive with 
egotism. All egotists are unconscious, for otherwise 
they would be intolerable to themselves; but some are 
subtler than others; and as most women have finer 
natures than most men everywhere, and in America 
most women have finer minds than most men, their 
egotism usually takes the form of pose. This is usual- 
ly obvious, but in some cases it is so delicately man- 
aged that you do not suspect it, unless some other 
woman gives you a hint of it, and even then you can- 
not be sure of it, seeing the self - sacrifice, almost to 
martyrdom, which the poseuse makes for it. If Mrs. 
Makely had not suggested that some people attributed 
a pose to Mrs. Strange, I should certainly never have 

85 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

dreamed of looking for it, and I should have 1)een 
only intensely interested, when she began, as soon as 
I was left alone with her and her mother : 

" You may not know how unusual I am in asking 
this favor of you, Mr. Homos; but you might as well 
learn from me as from others that I am rather un- 
usual in everything. In fact, you can report in Al- 
truria, when you get home, that you found at least one 
woman in America whom fortune had smiled upon 
in every way, and who hated her smiling fortune al- 
most as much as she hated herself. I'm quite satis- 
fied," she went on, with a sad mockery, " that fortune 
is a man, and an American; when he has given you 
all the materials for having a good time, he believes 
that you must be happy, because there is nothing to 
hinder. It isn't that I want to be happy in the greedy 
way that men think we do, for then I could easily be 
happy. If you have a soul which is not above buttons, 
buttons are enough. But if you expect to be of real 
use, to help on, and to help out, you will be disap- 
pointed. I have not the faith that they say upholds 
you Altrurians in trying to help out, if I don't see my 
way out. It seems to me that my reason has some right 
to satisfaction, and that, if I am a woman grown, I 
can't be satisfied with the assurances they would give 
to little girls — that everything is going on well. Any 
one can see that things are not going on well. There 
is more and more wretchedness of every kind, not hun- 
ger of body alone, but hunger of soul. If you escape 
one, you suffer the other, because, if you have a soul, 
you must long to help, not for a time, but for all time. 
I suppose," she asked, abruptly, "that Mrs. Makely 
has told you something about me ?" 

" Something," I admitted. 

" I ask," she went on, " because I don't want to 

86 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

bore you with a statement of my case, if you know 
it already. Ever since I heard you were in JSTew York 
I have wished to see you, and to talk with you about 
Altruria; I did not suppose that there would be any 
chance at Mrs. Makely's, and there wasn't; and I did 
not suppose there would be any chance here, unless I 
could take courage to do what I have done now. You 
must excuse it, if it seems as extraordinary a proceed- 
ing to you as it really is; I wouldn't at all have you 
think it is usual for a lady to ask one of her guests to 
stay after the rest, in order, if you please, to confess 
herself to him. It's a crime without a name." 

She laughed, not gayly, but humorously, and then 
went on, speaking always with a feverish eagerness 
which I find it hard to give you a sense of, for the 
women here have an intensity quite beyond our expe- 
rience of the sex at home. 

" But you are a foreigner, and you come from an 
order of things so utterly unlike ours that perhaps 
you will be able to condone my offence. At any rate, 
I have risked it." She laughed again, more gayly, 
and recovered herself in a cheerfuller and easier mood. 
" Well, the long and the short of it is that I have 
come to the end of my tether. I have tried, as truly 
as I believe any woman ever did, to do my share, with 
money and with work, to help make life better for 
those whose life is bad; and though one mustn't boast 
of good works, I may say that I have been pretty 
thorough, and, if I've given up, it's because I see, in 
our state of things, no hope of curing the evil. It's 
like trying to soak up the drops of a rainstorm. You 
do dry up a drop here and there; but the clouds are 
full of them, and, the first thing you know, you stand, 
with your blotting-paper in your hand, in a puddle 
over your shoe-tops. There is nothing but charity, and 

87 



THROUGH THE F.YE OF TPIE XEEDLE 

charity is a failure, except for the inomeut. If you 
think of the misery around you, that must remain 
around you for ever and ever, as long as you live, you 
have your choice — to go mad and be put into an asy- 
lum, or go mad and devote yourself to society." 



XX 



While Mrs. Strange talked on, her mother listened 
quietlv, with a dim, submissive smile and her hands 
placidly crossed in her lap. She now said: 

" It seems to be very different now from what it 
was in my time. There are certainly a great many 
becffars, and we used never to have one. Children 
grew up, and people lived and died, in large towns, 
without ever seeing one. I remember, when my hus- 
band first took me abroad, how astonished we were at 
the beggars, ^ow I meet as many in ISTcw York as 
I met in London or in Kome. But if you don't do 
charity, what can you do? Christ enjoined it, and 
Paul says — " 

" Oh, people never do the charity that Christ 
meant," said Mrs. Strange ; " and, as things are now, 
how could they? Who would dream of dividing half 
her frocks and wraps with poor women, or selling all 
and giving to the poor? That is what makes it so 
hopeless. We know that Christ was perfectly right, 
and that He was perfectly sincere in what He said to 
the good young millionaire; but we all go away ex- 
ceeding sorrowful, just as the good young millionaire 
did. We have to, if we don't want to come on char- 
ity ourselves. How do you manage about that?" she 
asked me ; and then she added, " But, of course, I 
forgot that you have no need of charity." 

" Oh yes, we have," I returned ; and I tried, once 
more, as I have tried so often with Americans, to ex- 

89 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

plain liow the heavenly need of giving the self con- 
tinues with ns, but on terms that do not harrow the 
conscience of the giver, as self-sacrifice always must 
here, at its purest and noblest. I sought to make her 
conceive of our nation as a family, where erery one 
was secured against want by the common provision, 
and against the degrading and depraving inequality 
which comes from want. The " dead-level of equal- 
ity " is what the Americans call the condition in which 
all would be as the angels of God, and they blas- 
phemously deny that He ever meant His creatures to 
be alike happy, because some, through a long succes- 
sion of unfair advantages, have inherited more brain 
or brawn or beauty than others. I found that this 
gross and impious notion of God darkened even the 
clear intelligence of a woman like Mrs. Strange; and, 
indeed, it prevails here so commonly that it is one of 
the first things advanced as an argument against the 
Altrurianization of America. 

I believe I did, at last, succeed in showing her how 
charity still continues among us, but in forms that 
bring neither a sense of inferiority to him who takes 
nor anxiety to him who gives. I said that benevo- 
lence here often seemed to involve, essentially, some 
such risk as a man should run if he parted with a 
portion of the vital air which belonged to himself and 
his family, in succoring a fellow-being from suffoca- 
tion; but that with us, where it was no more possible 
for one to deprive himself of his share of the common 
food, shelter, and clothing, than of the air he breathed, 
one could devote one's self utterly to others without 
that foul alloy of fear which I thought must basely 
qualify every good deed in plutocratic conditions. 

She said that she knew what I meant, and that I 
was quite right in my conjecture, as regarded men, at 

90 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

least; a man who did not stop to think what the ef- 
fect, upon himself and his own, his giving must have, 
would be a fool or a madman ; but women could often 
give as recklessly as they spent, without any thought 
of consequences, for they did not know how money 
came. 

" Women," I said, " are exterior to your conditions, 
and they can sacrifice themselves without wronging 
any one." 

" Or, rather," she continued, " without the sense of 
wronging any one. Our men like to keep us in that 
innocence or ignorance; they think it is pretty, or 
they think it is funny; and as long as a girl is in her 
father's house, or a wife is in her husband's, she knows 
no more of money-earning or money-making than a 
child. Most grown women among us, if they had a 
sum of money in the bank, would not know how to get 
it out. They would not know how to indorse a check, 
much less draw one. But there are plenty of women 
who are inside the conditions, as much as men are — 
poor women who have to earn their bread, and rich 
women who have to manage their property. I can't 
speak for the poor women; but I can speak for the 
rich, and I can confess for them that what you imagine 
is true. The taint of imfaith and distrust is on every 
dollar that you dole out, so that, as far as the charity 
of the rich is concerned, I would read Shakespeare: 

" It curseth him that gives, and him that takes." 

" Perhaps that is why the rich give comparatively 
so little. The poor can never understand how much 
the rich value their money, how much the owner of a 
great fortune dreads to see it less. If it were not so, 
they would surely give more than they do; for a man 

91 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

who lias ten millious could give eight of them without 
feeling the loss; the man with a hundred could give 
ninety and be no nearer want. Ah, it's a strange 
mystery! My poor husband and I used to talk of it 
a great deal, in the long year that he lay dying; and 
I think I hate my superfluity the more because I know 
he hated it so much." 

A little trouble had stolen into her impassioned 
tones, and there was a gleam, as of tears, in the eyes 
she dropped for a moment. They w^ere shining still 
when she lifted them again to mine. 

" I suppose," she said, " that Mrs. Makely told you 
something of my marriage ?" 

" Eveleth !" her mother protested, with a gentle 
murmur. 

" Oh, I think I can be frank with Mr. Homos. He 
is not an American, and he will understand, or, at least, 
he will not misunderstand. Besides, I dare say I shall 
not say anything worse than Mrs. Makely has said 
already. My husband was much older than I, and I 
ought not to have married him; a young girl ought 
never to marry an old man, or even a man who is only 
a good many years her senior. But we both faithfully 
tried to make the best of our mistake, not the worst, 
and I think this effort helped us to respect each other, 
when there couldn't be any question of more. He was 
a rich man, and he had made his money out of noth- 
ing, or, at least, from a beginning of utter poverty. 
But in his last years he came to a sense of its worth- 
lessness, such as few men who have made their money 
ever have. He was a common man, in a great many 
ways; he was imperfectly educated, and he was un- 
grammatical, and he never was at home in society; 
but he had a tender heart and an honest nature, and I 
revere his memory, as no one would believe I could 

92 



THKOUGll THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

without knowing him as I did. His money became a 
burden and a terror to him; he did not know what to 
do with it, and he was always morbidly afraid of do- 
ing harm with it ; he got to thinking that money was an 
evil in itself." 

" That is what we think," I ventured. 

" Yes, I know. But he had thought this out for 
himself, and yet he had times when his thinking about 
it seemed to him a kind of craze, and, at any rate, he 
distrusted himself so much that he died leaving it all 
to me. I suppose he thought that perhaps I could 
learn how to give it without hurting; and then he 
knew that, in our state of things, I must have some 
money to keep the wolf from the door. And I am 
afraid to part with it, too. I have given and given; 
but there seems some evil spell on the principal that 
guards it from encroachment, so that it remains the 
same, and, if I do not watch, the interest grows in 
the bank, with that frightful life dead money seems 
endowed with, as the hair of dead people grows in 
the grave." 

" Eveleth !" her mother murmured again. 

" Oh yes," she answered, " I dare say my words 
are wild. I dare say they only mean that I loathe my 
luxury from the bottom of my soul, and long to be rid 
of it, if I only could, without harm to others and with 
safety to myself." 



XXI 

It seemed to inc that I became suddenly sensible 
of this luxury for the first time. I had certainly been 
aware that I was in a large and stately house, and 
that I had been served and banqueted with a princely 
pride and profusion. But there had, somehow, been 
through all a sort of simplicity, a sort of quiet, so 
that I had not thought of the establishment and its 
operation, even so much as I had thought of Mrs. 
Makely's far inferior scale of living; or else, what 
with my going about so much in society, I was ceasing 
to be so keenly observant of the material facts as I 
had been at first. But I was better qualified to judge 
of what I saw, and I had now a vivid sense of the 
costliness of Mrs. Strange's environment. There were 
thousands of dollars in the carpets underfoot; there 
were tens of thousands in the pictures on the walls. 
In a bronze group that withdrew itself into a certain 
niche, with a faint relucence, there was the value of 
a skilled artisan's wage for five years of hard work; 
in the bindings of the books that showed from the li- 
brary shelves there was almost as much money as 
most of the authors had got for w^riting them. Every 
fixture, every movable, was an artistic masterpiece; a 
fortune, as fortunes iTsed to be counted even in this 
land of afiluence, had been lavished in the mere fur- 
nishing of a house which the palaces of nobles and 
princes of other times had contributed to embellish. 

" My husband," Mrs. Strange went on, " bought this 

94 



THROUGH THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

house for me, and let me furnish it after my own fancy. 
After it was all done we neither of us liked it, and 
when he died I felt as if he had left me in a tomb 
here." 

" Eveleth," said her mother, " you ought not to 
speak so before Mr. Homos. He will not know what 
to think of you, and he will go back to Altruria with 
a very wrong idea of American women." 

At this protest, Mrs. Strange seemed to recover her- 
self a little. " Yes," she said, " you must excuse me. 
I have no right to speak so. But one is often much 
franker with foreigners than wdth one's own kind, and, 
besides, there is something — I don't know what — that 
will not let me keep the truth from you." 

She gazed at me entreatingly, and then, as if some 
strong emotion swept her from her own hold, she broke 
out: 

" He thought he would make some sort of atonement 
to me, as if I owed none to him! His money was 
all he had to do it with, and he spent that upon me 
in every way he could think of, though he knew that 
money could not buy anything that was really good, 
and that, if it bought anything beautiful, it uglified 
it with the sense of cost to every one who could value 
it in dollars and cents. He was a good man, far bet- 
ter than people ever imagined, and very simple-hearted 
and honest, like a child, in his contrition for his wealth, 
which he did not dare to get rid of; and though I 
know that, if he were to come back, it would be just as 
it was, his memory is as dear to me as if — " 

She stopped, and pressed in her lip with her teeth, 
to stay its tremor. I was painfully affected. I knew 
that she had never meant to be so open with me, and 
was shocked and frightened at herself. I was sorry 
for her, and yet I was glad, for it seemed to me that 
' ' 95 



THKOUGII THE EYE OF THE isEEDLE 

ylic bad given me a glimpse, not only of the truth in 
her own heart, but of the truth in the hearts of a whole 
order of prosperous people in these lamentable con- 
ditions, whom I shall hereafter be able to judge more 
leniently, more justly. 

I began to speak of x\ltruria, as if that were Avhat 
our talk had been leading up to, and she showed her- 
self more intelligently interested concerning us than 
any one I have yet seen in this country. We appeared, 
I found, neither incredible nor preposterous to her; 
our life, in her eyes, had that beauty of right living 
which the Americans so feebly imagine or imagine not 
at all. She asked what route I had come by to Amer- 
ica, and she seemed disappointed and aggrieved that 
we placed the restrictions we have felt necessary upon 
visitors from the plutocratic world. Were we afraid, 
she asked, that they w^ould corrupt our citizens or mar 
our content with our institutions ? She seemed scarce- 
ly satisfied when I explained, as I have explained so 
often here, that the measures we had taken were rather 
in the interest of the plutocratic world than of the 
Altrurians; and alleged the fact that no visitor from 
the outside had ever been willing to go home again, 
as sufficient proof that we had nothing to fear from 
the spread of plutocratic ideals among us. I assured 
her, and this she easily imagined, that, the better known 
these became, the worse they appeared to us ; and that 
the only concern our priors felt, in regard to them, 
was that our youth could not conceive of them in their 
enormity, but, in seeing how estimable plutocratic 
people often were, they would attribute to their con- 
ditions the inherent good of human nature. I said our 
own life was so directly reasoned from its economic 
premises that they could hardly believe the plutocratic 
life was often an absolute non scquitur of the pluto- 

96 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

cratic premises. I confessed that this error was at the 
bottom of my own wish to visit America and study 
those premises. 

" And what has your conclusion been ?" she said, 
leaning eagerly towards me, across the table between 
us, laden with the maps and charts we had been ex- 
amining for the verification of the position of Altruria, 
and my own course here, by way of England. 

A slight sigh escaped Mrs. Gray, which I inter- 
preted as an expression of fatigue; it was already 
past twelve o'clock, and I made it the pretext for es- 
cape. 

" You have seen the meaning and purport of Altru- 
ria so clearly," I said, '' that I think I can safely leave 
you to guess the answer to that question." 

She laughed, and did not try to detain me now 
when I offered my hand for good-night. I fancied 
her mother took leave of me coldly, and with a certain 
effect of inculpation. 



XXII 

It is long since I wrote you, and you have had rea- 
son enough to be impatient of my silence. I submit 
to the reproaches of your letter, with a due sense of 
my blame; whether I am altogether to blame, you 
shall say after you have read this. 

I cannot yet decide whether I have lost a great 
happiness, the greatest that could come to any man, 
or escaped the worst misfortune that could befall me. 
But, such as it is, I will try to set the fact honestly 
down. 

I do not know whether you had any conjecture, 
from my repeated mention of a lady whose character 
greatly interested me, that I was in the way of feeling 
any other interest in her than my letters expressed. 
I am no longer young, though at thirty-five an Altru- 
rian is by no means so old as an American at the same 
age. The romantic ideals of the American women 
which I had formed from the American novels had 
been dissipated ; if I had any sentiment towards them, 
as a type, it was one of distrust, which my very sense 
of the charm in their inconsequence, their beauty, their 
brilliancy, served rather to intensify. I thought my- 
self doubly defended by that difference between their 
civilization and ours which forbade reasonable hope 
of happiness in any sentiment for them tenderer than 
that of the student of strange effects in human nature. 
But we have not yet, my dear Cyril, reasoned the pas- 
sions, even in Altruria. 

98 



THEOUGII THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

After I last wrote you, a series of accidents, or what 
appeared so, threw me more and more constantly into 
the society of Mrs. Strange. We began to laugh at the 
fatality with which we met everywhere — at teas, at 
lunches, at dinners, at evening receptions, and even 
at balls, where I have been a great deal, because, with 
all my thirty-five years, I have not yet outlived that 
fondness for dancing which has so often amused you 
in me. Wherever my acquaintance widened among 
cultivated people, they had no inspiration but to ask 
us to meet each other, as if there were really no other 
woman in l^ew York who could be expected to un- 
derstand me. " You must come to lunch (or tea, or 
dinner, whichever it might be), and we will have her. 
She will be so much interested to meet you." 

But perhaps we should have needed none of these 
accidents to bring us together. I, at least, can look 
back and see that, when none of them happened, I 
soiTght occasions for seeing her, and made excuses of 
our common interest in this matter and in that to go 
to her. 'As for her, I can only say that I seldom failed 
to find her at home, whether I called upon her nominal 
day or not, and more than once the man who let me in 
said he had been charged by Mrs. Strange to say that, 
if I called, she was to be back very soon; or else he 
made free to suggest that, though Mrs. Strange was 
not at home, Mrs. Gray was ; and then I found it easy 
to stay until Mrs. Strange returned. The good old 
lady had an insatiable curiosity about Altruria, and, 
though I do not think she ever quite believed in our 
reality, she at least always treated me kindly, as if I 
were the victim of an illusion that was thoroughly 
benign. 

I think she had some notion that your letters, which 
I used often to take with me and read to Mrs. Strange 

99 



TimOUUH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

and herself, were inventions of mine ; and the fact that 
they bore only an English postmark confirmed her in 
this notion, though I explained that in our present pas- 
sive attitude towards the world outside we had as yet 
no postal relations with other countries, and, as all our 
conmiunication at home was by electricity, that wc had 
no letter-post of our own. The very fact that she be- 
longed to a purer and better age in America disquali- 
fied her to conceive of Altruria ; her daughter, who had 
lived into a full recognition of the terrible anarchy in 
which the conditions have ultimated here, could far 
more vitally imagine us, and to her, I believe, we were 
at once a living reality. Her perception, her sym- 
pathy, her intelligence, became more and more to me, 
and I escaped to them oftener and oftener, from a 
world where an Altrurian must be so painfully at odds. 
In all companies here I am aware that I have been re- 
garded either as a good joke or a bad joke, according 
to the humor of the listener, and it was grateful to be 
taken seriously. 

From the first I w^as sensible of a charm in her, 
different from that I felt in other American women, 
and impossible in our Altrurian women. She had a 
deep and almost tragical seriousness, masked with a 
most winning gayety, a light irony, a fine scorn that 
was rather for herself than for others. She had 
thought herself out of all s^onpathy with her envi- 
ronment ; she knew its falsehood, its vacuity, its hope- 
lessness; but she necessarily remained in it and of it. 
She was as much at odds in it as I was, without my 
poor privilege of criticism and protest, for, as she 
said, she could not set herself up as a censor of things 
that she must keep on doing as other people did. She 
could have renoimced the world, as there arc ways and 
means of doing here; but she had no vocation to the 

100 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

religious life, and she cuuld not feign it without a sense 
of sacrilege. In fact, this generous and magnanimous 
and gifted woman w&s without that faith, that trust in 
God which comes to us iro'^\ living His law, and 
which I wonder any American can keep. She denied 
nothing; but she had lost the strength to afiirm any- 
thing. She no longer tried to do good from her heart, 
though she kept on doing charity in what she said was 
a mere mechanical impulse from the helief of other 
days, but always with the ironical doubt that she was 
doing harm. AVomen are nothing by halves, as men 
can be, and she was in a despair which, no man can 
realize, for we have always some if or and which a 
woman of the like mood casts from her in wild re- 
jection. Where she could not clearly see her w^ay to 
a true life, it was the same to her as an impenetrable 
darkness. 

You will have inferred something of all this from 
what I have written of her before, and from words of 
hers that I have reported to you. Do you think it so 
wonderful, then, that in the joy I felt at the hope, the 
solace, w^hich my story of our life seemed to give her, 
she should become more and more precious to me ? 
It was not wonderful, either, I think, that she should 
identify me with that hope, that solace, and should 
suffer herself to lean upon me, in a reliance infinitely 
sweet and endearing. But what a fantastic dream it 
now appears! 



XXIII 

I CAiT Hardly tell you just how we came to own 
our love to each other; but one day I found my- 
self alone with her mother, with the sense that 
Eveleth had suddenly withdrawn from the room at 
the knowledge of my approach. Mrs. Gray was 
strongly moved by something; but she governed her- 
self, and, after giving me a tremulous hand, bade 
me sit. 

" Will you excuse me, Mr. Homos," she began, " if 
I ask you whether you intend to make America your 
home after this ?" 

" Oh no !" I answered, and I tried to keep out of 
my voice the despair with which the notion filled me. 
I have sometimes had nightmares here, in which I 
thought that I was an American by choice, and I can 
give you no conception of the rapture of awakening to 
the fact that I could still go back to Altruria, that I 
had not cast my lot with tliis wretched people. " How 
could I do that ?" I faltered ; and I was glad to per- 
ceive that I had imparted to her no hint of the misery 
which I had felt at such a notion. 

" I mean, by getting naturalized, and becoming a 
citizen, and taking up your residence among us." 

" ISTo," I answered, as quietly as I could, " I had not 
thought of that." 

" And you still intend to go back to Altruria ?" 

" I hope so ; I ought to have gone back long ago, 
and if I had not met the friends I have in this house — " 

102 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE XEEDLE 

I stopped, for I did not know liow I should end what 
I had begun to say. 

" I am glad you think we are your friends," said 
the lady, " for we have tried to show ourselves your 
friends. I feel as if this had given me the right to 
say something to you that you may think very odd." 

" Say anything to me, my dear lady," I returned, 
" I shall not think it unkind, no matter how odd it is." 

" Oh, it's nothing. It's merely that — that when you 
are not here with us I lose my grasp on Altruria, and 
— and I begin to doubt — " 

I smiled. " I know ! People here have often hinted 
something of that kind to me. Tell me, Mrs. Gray, 
do Americans generally take me for an impostor ?" 

" Oh no !" she answered, fervently. " Everybody 
that I have heard speak of you has the highest regard 
for you, and believes you perfectly sincere. But — " 

" But what ?" I entreated. 

" They think you may be mistaken." 

" Then they think I am out of my wits — that I am 
in an hallucination !" 

" 'No, not that," she returned. " But it is so very 
difficult for us to conceive of a whole nation living, as 
you say you do, on the same terms as one family, and 
no one trying to get ahead of another, or richer, and 
having neither inferiors nor superiors, but just one 
dead level of equality, where there is no distinction 
except by natural gifts and good deeds or beautiful 
works. It seems impossible — it seems ridiculous." 

" Yes," I confessed, " I know that it seems so to the 
Americans." 

" And I must tell you something else, Mr. Homos, 
and I hope you won't take it amiss. The first night 
when you talked about Altruria here, and showed us 
how you had come, by way of England, and the place 

:o3 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

wlicro Altruriii oiii^lit to Le on our maps, I looked 
them over, after you were gone, and I could make 
nothing of it. I have often looked at the map since, 
but I could never find Altruria ; it was no use." 

" Why," I said, " if you will let me have your 
atlas — " 

She shook her head. " It would be the same again 
as soon as you went away." I could not conceal my 
distress, and she went on : " JSTow, you mustn't mind 
what I say. I'm nothing but a silly old woman, and 
Eveleth would never forgive me if she could know 
what I've been saying." 

" Then Mrs. Strange isn't troubled, as you are, con- 
cerning me?" I asked, and I confess my anxiety at- 
tenuated my voice almost to a whisper. 

" She won't admit that she is. It might be better 
for her if she would. But Eveleth is very true to her 
friends, and that — that makes me all the more anxious 
that she should not deceive herself." 

" Oh, Mrs. Gray !" I could not keej) a certain tone 
of reproach out of my words. 

She began to weep. " There ! I knew I should 
hurt your feelings. But yon mustn't mind what I 
say. I beg your pardon ! I take it all back — " 

" Ah, I don't want you to take it back ! But what 
proof shall I give you that there is such a land as 
Altruria ? If the darkness implies the day, America 
must imply Altruria. In what way do I seem false, 
or mad, except that I claim to be the citizen of a coun- 
try where people love one another as the first Chris- 
tians did ?" 

" That is just it," she returned. " ISTobody can im- 
agine the first Christians, and do you think we can 
imagine anything like them in our own day V 

" But Mrs. Strange — she imagines us, you say ?" 
104 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

"She thinks she does; but I am afraid she onlj 
thinks so, and I know her better than you do, Mr. 
Homos. I know how enthusiastic she always was, and 
how unhappy she has been since she has lost her hold 
on faith, and how eagerly she has caught at the hope 
you have given her of a higher life on earth than we 
live here. If she should ever find out that she was 
wrong, I don't know what would become of her. You 
mustn't mind me; you mustn't let me wound you by 
what I say." 

" You don't wound me, and I only thank you for 
what you say; but I entreat you to believe in me. Mrs. 
Strange has not deceived herself, and I have not de- 
ceived her. Shall I protest to you, by all I hold sacred, 
that I am really what I told you I was ; that I am not 
less, and that Altruria is infinitely more, happier, bet- 
ter, gladder, than any words of mine can say ? Shall 
I not have the happiness to see your daughter to-day ? 
I had something to say to her — and now I have so 
much more! If she is in the house, won't you send 
to her ? I can make her understand — " 

I stopped at a certain expression which I fancied I 
saw in Mrs. Gray's face. 

" Mr. Homos," she began, so very seriously that my 
heart trembled with a vague misgiving, "sometimes 
I think you had better not see my daughter any more." 
" JNTot see her any more ?" I gasped. 
"Yes; I don't see what good can come of it, and 
it's all very strange and uncanny. I don't know how 
to explain it; but, indeed, it isn't an^i^hing personal. 
It's because you are of a state of things so utterly 
opposed to human nature that I don't see how — I am 
afraid that — " 

" Eut I am not uncanny to Aer/" I entreated. " I 
am not unnatural, not incredible — " 

105 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" Oh no ; that is the worst of it. But I have said 
too much ; I have said a great deal more than I ought. 
But 3^ou must excuse it: I am an old woman. I am 
not very well, and I suppose it's that that makes me 
talk so much." 

She rose from her chair, and I, perforce, rose from 
mine and made a movement towards her. 

" 'No, no," she said, " I don't need any help. You 
must come again soon and see us, and show that you've 
forgotten what I've said." She gave me her hand, 
and I could not help bending over it and kissing it. 
She gave a little, pathetic whimper. " Oh, I know 
I've said the most dreadful things to you." 

" You haven't said anything that takes your friend- 
ship from me, Mrs. Gray, and that is what I care for." 
My own eyes filled with tears — I do not know why — 
and I groped my way from the room. Without see- 
ing any one in the obscurity of the hallway, where I 
found myself, I was aware of some one there, by that 
sort of fine perception which makes us know the pres- 
ence of a spirit. 

" You are going ?" a whisper said. " Why are you 
going?" And Eveleth had me by the hand and was 
drawing me gently into the dim drawing-room that 
opened from the place. " I don't know all my mother 
has been saying to you. I had to let her say some- 
thing; she thought she ought. I knew you would 
know how to excuse it." 

" Oh, my dearest !" I said, and why I said this I 
do not know, or how we found ourselves in each other's 
arms. 

" What are we doing ?" she murmured. 

" You don't believe I am an impostor, an illusion, 
a visionary?" I besought her, straining her closer to 
my heart. 

106 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" I believe in you, with all my soul !" she answered. 

We sat doAvn, side by side, and talked long. I did 
not go away the whole day. "With a high disdain of 
convention, she made me stay. Her mother sent word 
that she would not be able to come to dinner, and we 
were alone together at table, in an image of what our 
united lives might be. We spent the evening in that 
happy interchange of trivial confidences that lovers use 
in symbol of the unutterable raptures that fill them. 
We were there in what seemed an infinite present, 
without a past, without a future. 



XXIV 

Society had to be taken into our confidence, and 
Mrs. Makely saw to it that there were no reserves with 
society. Our engagement was not quite like that of 
two young persons, but people found in our character 
and circumstance an interest far transcending that felt 
in the engagement of the most romantic lovers. Some 
note of the fact came to us by accident, as one evening 
w^hen we stood near a couple and heard them talking. 
" It must be very weird," the man said ; " something 
like being engaged to a materialization." " Yes," said 
the girl, " quite the Demon Lover business, I should 
think." She glanced round, as people do, in talking, 
and, at sight of us, she involuntarily put her hand 
over her mouth. I looked at Eveleth; there was noth- 
ing expressed in her face but a generous anxiety for 
me. But so far as the open att^'tude of society towards 
us was concerned, nothing could have been more flat- 
tering. We could hardly have been more asked to 
meet each other than before; but now there were en- 
tertainments in special recognition of our betrothal, 
which Eveleth said could not be altogether refused, 
though she found the ordeal as irksome as I did. In 
America, however, you get used to many things. I 
do not know why it should have been done, but in the 
society columns of several of the great newspapers our 
likenesses were printed, from photographs procured 
I cannot guess how, with descriptions of our persons as 
to those points of coloring and carriage and stature 

108 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

which the pictures could not give, and with biographies 
such as could be ascertained in her case and imagined 
in mine. In some of the society papers, paragraphs 
of a surprising scurrility appeared, attacking me as an 
impostor, and aspersing the motives of Eveleth in her 
former marriage, and treating her as a foolish crank 
or an audacious flirt. The goodness of her life, her 
self-sacrifice and works of benevolence, counted for no 
more against these wanton attacks than the absolute 
inoffensiveness of my own; the writers knew no harm 
of her, and they knew nothing at all of me; but they 
devoted us to the execration of their readers simply 
because we formed apt and ready themes for para- 
graphs. You may judge of how wild they were in 
their aim when some of them denounced me as an Al- 
trurian plutocrat ! 

We could not escape this storm of notoriety ; we had 
simply to let it spend its fury. When it began, several 
reporters of both sexes came to interview me, and ques- 
tioned me, not only as to all the facts of my past life, 
and all my purposes in the future, but as to my opinion 
of hypnotism, eternal punishment, the Ibsen drama, 
and the tariff reform. I did my best to answer them 
seriously, and certainly I answered them civilly; but 
it seemed from what they printed that the answers I 
gave did not concern them, for they gave others for me. 
They appeared to me for the most part kindly and 
well-meaning young people, though vastly ignorant of 
vital things. They had apparently visited me with 
minds made up, or else their reports were revised by 
some controlling hand, and a quality injected more in 
the taste of the special journals they represented than 
in keeping with the facts. When I realized this, I 
refused to see any more reporters, or to answer them, 
and then they printed the questions they had prepared 

109 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

to ask me, in such form that my silence was made of 
the same damaging effect as a full confession of guilt 
upon the charges. 

The experience was so strange and new to me that 
it affected me in a degree I was unwilling to let Eve- 
leth imagine. But she divined my distress, and, when 
she divined that it was chiefly for her, she set herself 
to console and reassure me. She told me that this 
was something every one here expected, in coming 
willingly or unwillingly before the public; and that 
I must not think of it at all, for certainly no one else 
would think twice of it. This, I found, was really so, 
for when I ventured to refer tentatively to some of 
these publications, I found that people, if they had 
read them, had altogether forgotten them; and that 
they were, with all the glare of print, of far less effect 
with our acquaintance than something said under the 
breath in a corner. I found that some of our friends 
had not kno^vn the effigies for ours which they had 
seen in the papers; others made a joke of the whole 
affair, as the Americans do with so many affairs, and 
said that they supposed the pictures were those of 
people who had been cured by some patent medicine, 
they looked so strong and handsome. This, I think, 
was a piece of Mr. Makely's humor in the beginning; 
but it had a general vogue long after the interviews 
and the illustrations were forgotten. 



XXV 

I LINGER a little upon these trivial matters because 
I shrink from what must follow. They were scarcely 
blots upon our happiness; rather they were motes in 
the sunshine which had no other cloud. It is true that 
I was always somewhat puzzled by a certain manner 
in Mrs. Gray, which certainly was from no unfriend- 
liness for me; she could not have been more affection- 
ate to me, after our engagement, if I had been really 
her own. son; and it was not until after our common 
kindness had confirmed itself upon the new footing 
that I felt this perplexing qualification on it. I felt 
it first one day when I found her alone, and I talked 
long and freely to her of Eveleth, and opened to her 
my whole heart of joy in our love. At one point she 
casually asked me how soon we should expect to return 
from Altruria after our visit; and at first I did not 
understand. 

" Of course," she explained, " you will want to see 
all your old friends, and so will Eveleth, for they will 
be her friends, too; but if you want me to go with 
you, as you say, you must let me know when I shall 
see ITew York again." 

" Why," I said, " you will always be with us." 

" Well, then," she pursued, with a smile, " when 
shall you come back ?" 

" Oh, never !" I answered. " 'No one ever leaves 
Altruria, if he can help it, unless he is sent on a 
mission." 

8 111 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

She looked a little mystified, and I went on : " Of 
course, I was not officially authorized to visit the world 
outside, but I was permitted to do so, to satisfy a 
curiosity the priors thought useful; but I have now 
had quite enough of it, and I shall never leave home 
again." 

" You won't come to live in America ?" 

"God forbid!" said I, and I am afraid I could not 
hide the horror that ran through me at the thought. 
" And when you once see our happy country, you could 
no more be persuaded to return to America than a dis- 
embodied spirit could be persuaded to return to the 
earth." 

She was silent, and I asked : " But, surely, you un- 
derstood this, Mrs. Gray ?" 

" No," she said, reluctantly. " Does Eveleth ?" 

" Why, certainly," I said. " We have talked it over 
a hundred times. Hasn't she — " 

^' I don't know,'* she returned, with a vague trouble 
in her voice and eyes. " Perhaps I haven't understood 
her exactly. Perhaps — but I shall be ready to do 
whatever you and she think best. I am an old woman, 
you know ; and, you know, I was born here, and I should 
feel the change." 

Her words conveyed to me a delicate reproach; I 
felt for the first time that, in my love of my own 
country, I had not considered her love of hers. It is 
said that the Icelanders are homesick when they leave 
their world of lava and snow; and I ought to have re- 
membered that an American might have some such 
tenderness for his atrocious conditions, if he were ex- 
iled from them forever. I suppose it was the large and 
wide mind of Eveleth, with its openness to a knowledge 
and appreciation of better things, that had suffered me 
to forget this. She seemed always so eager to see 

112 



TimOUGII THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

Altruriii, she iiuagiiicd it so fully, so lovingly, that I 
had ceased to think of her as an alien ; she seemed one 
of us, by birth as well as by affinity. 

Yet now the words of her mother, and the light 
they threw upon the situation, gave me pause. I be- 
gan to ask myself questions I was impatient to ask 
Eveleth, so that there should be no longer any shadow 
of misgiving in my breast; and yet I found myself 
dreading to ask them, lest by some perverse juggle I 
had mistaken our perfect sympathy for a perfect un- 
derstanding. 



XXVI 

Like all cowards who wait a happy moment for the 
duty that should not be suffered to wait at all, I was 
destined to have the aifair challenge me, instead of 
seizing the advantage of it that instant frankness would 
have given me. Shall I confess that I let several days 
go by, and still had not spoken to Eveleth, when, at the 
end of a long evening — the last long evening we passed 
together — she said: 

"Wliat would you like to have me do with this 
house while we are gone ?" 

" Do with this house ?" I echoed ; and I felt as if I 
were standing on the edge of an abyss. 

" Yes ; shall we let it, or sell it — or what ? Or give 
it away?" I drew a little breath at this; perhaps we 
had not misunderstood each other, after all. She went 
on : " Of course, I have a peculiar feeling about it, so 
that I wouldn't like to get it ready and let it furnished, 
in the ordinary way. I would rather lend it to some 
one, if I could be sure of any one who would appreciate 
it; but I can't, l^ot one. And it's very much the 
same when one comes to think about selling it. Yes, 
I should like to give it away for some good purpose, if 
there is any in this wretched state of things. What do 
you say, Aristide?" 

She always used the French form of my name, be- 
cause she said it soimded ridiculous in English, for a 
white man, though I told her that the English was 
nearer the Greek in sound. 

114 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" Bj all means, give it away," I said. " Give it for 
some public purpose. That will at least be better than 
any private purpose, and put it somehow in the control 
of the State, beyond the reach of individuals or cor- 
porations. Why not make it the foundation of a free 
school for the study of the Altrurian polity?" 

She laughed at this, as if she thought I must be 
joking. " It would be droll, wouldn't it, to have Tam- 
many appointees teaching Altrurianism ?" Then she 
said, after a moment of reflection : " Why not ? It 
needn't be in the hands of Tammany. It could be in 
the hands of the United States; I will ask my lawyer 
if it couldn't; and I will endow it with money enough 
to support the school handsomely. Aristide, you have 
hit it!" 

I began : " You can give all your money to it, my 
dear — " But I stopped at the bewildered look she 
turned on me. 

" All ?" she repeated. " But what should we have 
to live on, then ?" 

" We shall need no money to live on in Altruria," 
I answered. 

" Oh, in Altruria ! But when we come back to 'New 
York?" 

It was an agonizing moment, and I felt that shut- 
ting of the heart which blinds the eyes and makes the 
brain reel. " Eveleth," I gasped, " did you expect to 
return to New York ?" 

" Why, certainly !" she cried. " ISTot at once, of 
course. But after you had seen your friends, and 
made a good, long visit — Why, surely, Aristide, you 
don't understand that I — You didn't mean to live in 
Altruria ?" 

" Ah !" I answered. " Where else could I live ? 
Did you think for an instant that I could live in such 

116 



THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

a land as this ?" I saw that she was hurt, and I hasten- 
ed to say : " I know that it is the best part of the world 
outside of Altruria, but, oh, my dear, you cannot im- 
agine how horrible the notion of living here seems to 
me. Forgive me. I am going from bad to worse. I 
don't mean to wound you. After all, it is your coun- 
try, and you must love it. But, indeed, I could not 
think of living here. I could not take the burden of 
its wilful misery on my soul. I must live in Altruria, 
and you, when you have once seen my country, our 
country, will never consent to live in any other." 

" Yes," she said, " I know it must be very beauti- 
ful; but I hadn't supposed — and yet I ought — " 

" "No, dearest, no ! It was I who was to blame, for 
not being clearer from the first. But that is the way 
with us. We can't imagine any people willing to live 
anywhere else when once they have seen Altruria ; and 
I have told you so much of it, and we have talked of 
it together so often, that I must have forgotten you had 
not actually kno^vn it. But listen, Eveleth. We will 
agree to this: After we have been a year in Altruria, 
if you wish to return to America I will come back and 
live with you here." 

" !N^o, indeed !" she answered, generously. " If you 
are to be my husband," and here she began with the 
solemn words of the Bible, so beautiful in their quaint 
English, " ' whither thou goest, I will go, and I will 
not return from following after thee. Thy country 
shall be my country, and thy God my God." 

I caught her to my heart, in a rapture of tenderness, 
and the evening that had begim for us so forbiddingly 
ended in a happiness such as not even our love had 
known before. I insisted upon the conditions I had 
made, as to our future home, and she agreed to them 
gayly at last, as a sort of reparation which I might 

116 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

make mj conscience, if I liked, for tearing her from 
a country which she had willingly lived out of for the 
far greater part of the last five years. 

But when we met again I cculd see that she had 
been thinking seriously. 

^^ " I won't give the house absolutely awav," she said 
"I will keep the deed of it myself, but I will estab- 
lish that sort of school of Altrurian doctrine in it, and 
I will endow it, and when we come back here, for our 
experimental sojourn, after we've been in Altrurid a 
year, we'll take up our quarters in it— I won't give 
the whole house to the school — and we will lecture 
on the later phases of Altrurian life to the pupils. 
How will that do ?" 

She put her arms around my neck, and I said that 
It would do admirably; but I had a certain sinking of 
the heart, for I saw how hard it was even for Eveleth 
to part with her property. 

" I'll endow it," she went on, " and I'll leave the 
rest of my money at interest here; unless you think 
that some Altrurian securities — " 

" ISTo; there are no such things!" I cried. 
'^'That was what I thought," she returned; "and 
as It will cost us nothing while we are in Altruria, the 
interest will be something very handsome by the time 
we get back, even in United States bonds." 

"Something handsome!" I cried. "But, Eveleth, 
haven't I lieard you say yourself that the growth of 

interest from dead money was like " 

"Oh yes; that!" she returned. "But you know 
you have to take it. You can't let the money lie idle: 
that would be ridiculous; and then, with the good 
purpose we have in view, it is our duty to take the 
interest. How should we keep up the school, and pay 
the teachers, and everything?" 

117 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

I saw that she had forgotten the great sum of the 
principal, or that, through lifelong training and asso- 
ciation, it was so sacred to her that she did not even 
dream of touching it. I was silent, and she thought 
that I was persuaded. 

" You are perfectly right in theory, dear, and T feel 
just as you do about such things; I'm sure I've suf- 
fered enough from them; but if we didn't take in- 
terest for your money, what should we have to live 
onT 

" ^ot my money, Eveleth !" I entreated. " Don't 
say my money !" 

" But whatever is mine is yours," she returned, with 
a wounded air. 

" ISFot your money ; but I hope you will soon have 
none. We should need no money to live on in Altru- 
ria. Our share of the daily work of all will amply 
suffice for our daily bread and shelter." 

" In Altruria, yes. But how about America ? And 
you have promised to come back here in a year, you 
know. Ladies and gentlemen can't share in the daily 
toil here, even if they could get the toil, and, where 
there are so many out of work, it isn't probable they 
could." 

She dropped upon my knee as she spoke, laughing, 
and put her hand under my chin, to lift my fallen 
face. 

" ^ow you mustn't be a goose, Aristide, even if you 
are an angel ! ISTow listen. You Tcnow, don't you, that 
I hate money just as badly as you ?" 

" You have made me think so, Eveleth," I answered. 

" I hate it and loathe it. I think it's the source of 
all the sin and misery in the world; but you can't get 
rid of it at a blow. For if you gave it away you might 
do more harm than good with it." 

US 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE XEEDLE 

" You could destroy it," I said. 

" ]N'ot unless you were a crank," she returned. 
"And that brings me just to the point. I know that 
I'm doing a very queer thing to get married, when we 
know so little, really, about you," and she accented 
this confession with a laugh that was also a kiss. " But 
I want to show people that we are just as practical as 
anybody; and if they can know that I have left my 
money in United States bonds, they'll respect us, no 
matter what I do with the interest. Don't you see? 
We can come back, and preach and teach Altrurianism, 
and as long as we pay our way nobody will have a right 
to say a word. Wliy, Tolstoy himself doesn't destroy 
his money, though he wants other people to do it. His 
wife keeps it, and supports the family. You have to 
do it." 

" He doesn't do it willingly." 

*' 'Eo. And ive won't. And after a while — after 
we've got back, and compared Altruria and America 
from practical experience, if we decide to go and live 
there altogether, I will let you do what you please with 
the hateful money. I suppose we couldn't take it there 
with us ?" 

" !N^o more than you could take it to heaven with 
you," I answered, solemnly; but she would not let me 
be altogether serious about it. 

" Well, in either case we could get on without it, 
though we certainly could not get on without it here. 
Why, Aristide, it is essential to the influence we shall 
try to exert for Altrurianism; for if we came back 
here and preached the true life without any money to 
back us, no one would pay any attention to us. But 
if we have a good house waiting for us, and are able 
to entertain nicely, we can attract the best people, and 
— and — really do some good." 

^119 



XXVII 

I EORE in a distress which I could not hide. " Oh, 
Eveleth, Eveletli !" I cried. " You are like all the rest, 
poor child ! You are the creature of your environment, 
as we all are. You cannot escape what you have been. 
It may be that I was wrong to wish or expect you to 
cast your lot with me in Altruria, at once and forever. 
It may be that it is my duty to return here with you 
after a time, not only to let you see that Altruria is 
best, but to end my days in this unhappy land, preach- 
ing and teaching Altrurianism ; but we miist not come 
as prophets to the comfortable people, and entertain 
nicely. If we are to renew the evangel, it must be in 
the life and the spirit of the First Altrurian : we must 
come poor to the poor; we must not try to win any 
one, save through his heart and conscience; we must 
be as simple and humble as the least of those that Christ 
bade follow Him. Eveleth, perhaps you have made a 
mistake. I love you too much to wish you to suffer even 
for your good. Yes, I am so weak as that. I did not 
think that this would be the sacrifice for you that it 
seems, and I will not ask it of you. I am sorry that 
we have not understood each other, as I supposed Ave 
had. I could never become an American ; perhaps you 
could never become an Altrurian. Think of it, dearest. 
Think well of it, before you take the step which you 
cannot recede from. I hold you to no promise ; I love 
you so dearly that I cannot let you hold yourself. But 
you must choose between me and your money — no, not 

120 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

me — but between love and your money. You cannot 
keep both." 

She had stood listening to me ; now she cast herself 
on my heart and stopped my words with an impas- 
sioned kiss. " Then there is no choice for me. My 
choice is made, once for all." She set her hands against 
my breast and pushed me from her. "Go now; but 
come again to-morrow. I want to think it all over 
again. ;N"ot that I have any doubt, but because you 
wish it — you wish it, don't you ? — and because I will 
not let you ever think I acted upon an impulse, and that 
I regretted it." 

" That is right, Eveleth. That is like your I said, 
and I took her into my arms for good-night. 

The next day I came for her decision, or rather for 
her confirmation of it. The man who opened the door 
to me met me with a look of concern and embarrass- 
ment. He said Mrs. Strange was not at all well, and 
had told him he was to give me the letter he handed 
me. I asked, in taking it, if I could see Mrs. Gray, 
and he answered that Mrs. Gray had not been do\\Ti 
yet, but he would go and see. I was impatient to read 
my letter, and I made I know not what vague reply, 
and I found myself, I know not how, on the pavement, 
with the letter open in my hand. It began abruptly 
without date or address: 

''You will believe that I Jiave not slept, luhen you 
read this. 

"I liave thought it all over again, as you wished, 
and it is all over hetiveen us. 

"I am what you said, the creature of my environ- 
ment. I cannot detach myself from it; I cannot escape 
from what I have heen. 

" I am luriling this ivith a strange coldness, like the 
121 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

chill of death, in my very soul. I do not ash you to 
forgive me; I have your forgiveness already. Do not 
forget me; that is what I ask. Remember me as the 
unhappy woman who was not equal to her chance when 
heaven was opened to her, luho could not choose the 
best ivhen the best carne to her. 

" There is no use writing; if I Tcept on forever, it 
would always be the same cry of shame, of love. 

" Eveleth Strange." 

I reeled as I read the lines. The street seemed to 
weave itself into a circle around me. But I knew that 
I was not dreaming, that this was no delirium of my 
sleep. 

It was three days ago, and I have not tried to see 
her again. I have written her a line, to say that I shall 
not forget her, and to take the blame upon myself. 
I expected the impossible of her. 

I have yet two days before me until the steamer 
sails ; we were to have sailed together, and now I shall 
sail alone. 

I will try to leave it all behind me forever; but 
while I linger out these last long hours here I must 
think and I must doubt. 

Was she, then, the poseuse that they said ? Had she 
really no heart in our love? Was it only a pretty 
drama she was playing, and were those generous mo- 
tives, those lofty principles which seemed to actuate 
her, the poetical qualities of the play, the graces of 
her pose ? I cannot believe it. I believe that she was 
truly what she seemed, for she had been that even be- 
fore she met me. I believe that she was pure and lofty 
in soul as she appeared; but that her life was warped 
to such a form by the false conditions of this sad world 
that, when she came to look at herself again, after she 

122 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

had been confronted with the sacrifice before her, she 
feared that she could not make it without in a manner 
ceasing to be. 

She— 

But I shall soon see jou again; and, until then, 
farewell. 



END OF PART I 



PART SECOND 



I COULD hardly have believed, my dear Dorothea, 
that I should be so late in writing to yon from Altru- 
ria, but you can easily believe that I am thoroughly 
ashamed of myself for my neglect. It is not for want 
of thinking of you, or talking of you, that I have 
seemed so much more ungrateful than I am. My hus- 
band and I seldom have any serious talk which doesn't 
somehow come round to you. He admires you and 
likes you as much as I do, and he does his best, poor 
man, to understand you ; but his not understanding you 
is only a part of his general failure to understand how 
any American can be kind and good in conditions 
which he considers so abominable as those of the capi- 
talistic world. He is not nearly so severe on us as he 
used to be at times when he was among us. When the 
other Altrurians are discussing us he often puts in a 
reason for us against their logic; and I think he 
has really forgotten, a good deal, how bad things are 
with us, or else finds his own memory of them incredi- 
ble. But his experience of the world outside his own 
country has taught him how to temper the passion 
of the Altrurians for justice with a tolerance of the 
unjust; and when they bring him to book on his own 
report of us he tries to explain us away, and show how 
we are not so bad as we ought to be. 

For weeks after we came to Altruria I was so un- 
historically blest that if I had been disposed to give 
you a full account of myself I should have had no 
9 127 



THE-OUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

events to hang the narrative on. Life here is so sub- 
jective (if you don't know what that is, you poor dear, 
you must get Mr. Twelvemough to explain) that there 
is usually nothing like news in it, and I always feel 
that the difference between Altruria and America is so 
immense that it is altogether beyond me to describe it. 
But now we have had some occurrences recently, quite 
in the American sense, and these have furnished me 
with an incentive as well as opportunity to send you a 
letter. Do you remember how, one evening after din- 
ner, in !N^ew York, you and I besieged my husband and 
tried to make him tell us why Altruria was so isolated 
from the rest of the world, and why such a great and 
enlightened continent should keep itself apart? I see 
still his look of horror when Mr. Makely suggested that 
the United States should send an expedition and 
" open " Altruria, as Commodore Perry " opened " 
Japan in 1850, and try to enter into commercial re- 
lations with it. The best he could do was to say what 
always seemed so incredible, and keep on assuring us 
that Altruria wished for no sort of public relations with 
Europe or America, but was very willing to depend for 
an indefinite time for its communication with those re- 
gions on vessels putting into its ports from stress of 
one kind or other, or castaway on its coasts. They are 
mostly trading-ships or whalers, and they come a great 
deal of tener than you suppose ; you do not hear of them 
afterwards, because their crews are poor, ignorant peo- 
ple, whose stories of their adventures are always dis- 
trusted, and who know they would be laughed at if they 
told the stories they could of a country like Altruria. 
My husband himself took one of their vessels on her 
home voyage when he came to us, catching the Austral- 
asian steamer at l^ew Zealand; and now I am writing 
you by the same sort of opportunity. I shall have time 

128 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

enough to write jou a longer letter than you will care 
to read; the ship does not sail for a week yet, because 
it is so hard to get her crew together. 

'Now that I have actually made a beginning, my 
mind goes back so strongly to that terrible night when 
I came to you after Aristides (I always use the Eng- 
lish form of his name now) left JSTew York that I 
seem to be living the tragedy over again, and this 
happiness of mine here is like a dream which I can- 
not trust. It was not all tragedy, though, and I re- 
member how funny Mr, Makely was, trying to keep 
his face straight when the whole truth had to come 
out, and I confessed that I had expected, without 
really knowing it myself, that Aristides would dis- 
regard that wicked note I had written him and come 
and make me marry him, not against my will, but 
against my word. Of course I didn't put it in just 
that way, but in a way to let you both guess it. The 
first glimmering of hope that I had was when Mr. 
Makely said, " Then, when a woman tells a man that 
all is over between them forever, she means that she 
would like to discuss the business with him?" I was 
old enough to be ashamed, but it seemed to me that you 
and I had gone back in that awful moment and were 
two girls together, just as we used to be at school. I 
was proud of the way you stood up for me, because I 
thought that if you could tolerate me after what I had 
confessed I could not be quite a fool. I knew that I 
deserved at least some pity, and though I laughed with 
Mr. Makely, I was glad of your indignation with him, 
and of your faith in Aristides. When it came to the 
question of what I should do, I don't know which of 
you I owed the most to. It was a kind of comfort to 
have Mr. Makely acknowledge that though he regarded 
Aristides as a myth, still he believed that he was a 

129 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

thoroughly good myth, and couldn't tell a lie if he 
wanted to; and I loved you, and shall love you more 
than any one else but him, for saying that Aristides was 
the most real man you had ever met, and that if every- 
thing he said was untrue you would trust him to the 
end of the world. 

But, Dolly, it wasn't all comedy, any more than it 
was all tragedy, and when you and I had laughed and 
cried ourselves to the point where there was nothing 
for me to do but to take the next boat for Liverpool, 
and Mr. Makely had agreed to look after the tickets 
and cable Aristides that I was coming, there was 
still my poor, dear mother to deal with. There is no 
use trying to conceal from you that she was always 
opposed to my husband. She thought there was some- 
thing uncanny about him, though she felt as we did 
that there was nothing uncanny in him; but a man 
who pretended to come from a country where there was 
no riches and no poverty could not be trusted with any 
woman's happiness; and though she could not help 
loving him, she thought I ought to tear him out of my 
heart, and if I could not do that I ought to have 
myself shut up in an asylum. We had a dreadful 
time when I told her what I had decided to do, and 
I was almost frantic. At last, when she saw that I was 
determined to follow him, she yielded, not because she 
was convinced, but because she could not give me up; 
I wouldn't have let her if she could. I believe that 
the only thing which reconciled her was that you 
and Mr. Makely believed in him, and thought I had 
better do what I wanted to, if nothing could keep 
me from it. I shall never, never forget Mr. Makely 's 
goodness in coming to talk with her, and how skilfully 
he managed, without committing himself to Altruria, to 
declare his faith in my Altrurian. Even then she was 

130 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

troubled about what she thought the indelicacy of my be- 
havior in following him across the sea, and she had all 
sorts of doubts as to how he would receive me when we 
met in Liverpool. It wasn't very reasonable of me to say 
that if he cast me off I should still love him more than 
any other human being, and his censure would be more 
precious to me than the praise of the rest of the world. 
I suppose I hardly knew what I was saying, but 
when once I had yielded to my love for him there was 
nothing else in life. I could not have left my mother 
behind, but in her opposition to me she seemed like an 
enemy, and I should somehow have forced her to go 
if she had not yielded. When she did yield, she yielded 
with her whole heart and soul, and so far from hinder- 
ing me in my preparations for the voyage, I do not be- 
lieve I could have got off without her. She thought 
about everything, and it was her idea to leave my 
business affairs entirely in Mr. Makely's hands, and 
to trust the future for the final disposition of my prop- 
erty. I did not care for it myself; I hated it, because 
it was that which had stood between me and Aristides ; 
but she foresaw that if by any wild impossibility he 
should reject me when we met, I should need it for the 
life I must go back to in iNew York. She behaved like a 
martyr as well as a heroine, for till we reached Altruria 
she was a continual sacrifice to me. She stubbornly 
doubted the whole affair, but now I must do her the 
justice to say that she has been convinced by the fact. 
The best she can say of it is that it is like the world 
of her girlhood ; and she has gone back to the simple 
life here from the artificial life in ^w York, with the 
joy of a child. She works the whole day, and she 
would play if she had ever learned how. She is a bet- 
ter Altrurian than I am; if there could be a bigoted 
Altrurian my mother would be one. 

131 



II 



I SENT you a short letter from Liverpool, saying that 
by the unprecedented delays of the Urania, which I 
had taken because it was the swiftest boat of the ISTep- 
tune line, we had failed to pass the old, ten-day, single- 
screw Galaxy liner which Aristides had sailed in. I 
had only time for a word to you ; but a million words 
could not have told the agonies I suffered, and when 
I overtook him on board the Orient Pacific steamer 
at Plymouth, where she touched, I could just scribble 
off the cable sent Mr. Makely before our steamer put 
off again. I am afraid you did not find my cable very 
expressive, but I was glad that I did not try to say 
more, for if I had tried I should simply have gibbered, 
at a shilling a gibber. I expected to make amends by 
a whole volume of letters, and I did post a dozen under 
one cover from Colombo. If they never reached you 
I am very sorry, for now it is impossible to take up the 
threads of that time and weave them into any sort of 
connected pattern. You will have to let me off with 
saying that Aristides was everything that I believed 
he would be and was never really afraid he might not 
be. From the moment we caught sight of each other at 
Plymouth, he at the rail of the steamer and I on the 
deck of the tender, we were as completely one as we 
are now. I never could tell how I got aboard to him ; 
whether he came down and brought me, or whether I was 
simply rapt through the air to his side. It would have 
been embarrassing if we had not treated the situation 

132 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

frankly; but such odd things happen among the Eng- 
lish going out to their different colonies that our mar- 
riage, by a missionary returning to his station, was not 
even a nine days' wonder with our fellow-passengers. 

We were a good deal more than nine days on the 
steamer before we could get a vessel that would take us 
on to Altruria; but we overhauled a ship going there 
for provisions at last, and we were all put off on her, 
bag and baggage, with three cheers from the friends we 
were leaving; I think they thought we were going to 
some of the British islands that the Pacific is full of. I 
had been thankful from the first that I had not brought 
a maid, knowing the Altrurian prejudice against hire- 
ling service, but I never was so glad as I was when we 
got aboard that vessel, for when the captain's wife, who 
was with him, found that I had no one to look after 
me, she looked after me herself, just for the fun of it, 
she said; but I knew it was the love of it. It was a 
sort of general trading-ship, stopping at the different 
islands in the South Seas, and had been a year out from 
home, where the kind woman had left her little ones ; 
she cried over their photographs to me. Her husband 
had been in Altruria before, and he and Aristides were 
old acquaintances and met like brothers; some of the 
crew knew him, too, and the captain relaxed discipline 
so far as to let us shake hands with the second-mate as 
the men's representative. 

I needn't dwell on the incidents of our home-coming 
— for that was what it seemed for my mother and me 
as well as for my husband — ^but I must give you one 
detail of our reception, for I still think it almost the 
prettiest thing that has happened to us among the 
millions of pretty things. Aristides had written home 
of our engagement, and he was expected with his Amer- 
ican wife; and before we came to anchor the captain 

133 



TIIKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

ran up the Emissary's signal, which my husband gave 
him, and then three boats left the shore and pulled 
rapidly out to us. As they came nearer I saw the 
first Altrurian costumes in the lovely colors that the 
people wear here, and that make a group of them 
look like a flower-bed; and then I saw that the boats 
were banked with flowers along the gunwales from 
stem to stern, and that they were each not manned, 
but girled by six rowers, who pulled as true a stroke 
as I ever saw in our boat-races. When they caught sight 
of us, leaning over the side, and Aristides lifted his 
hat and waved it to them, they all stood their oars up- 
right, and burst into a kind of welcome song: I Had 
been dreading one of those stupid, banging salutes of 
ten or twenty guns, and you can imagine what a relief 
it was. They were great, splendid creatures, as tall as 
our millionaires' tallest daughters, and as strong-look- 
ing as any of our college-girl athletes ; and when we got 
down over the ship's side, and Aristides said a few 
words of introduction for my mother and me, as we 
stepped into the largest of the boats, I thought they 
w^ould crush me, catching me in their strong, brown 
arms, and kissing me on each cheek; they never kiss 
on the mouth in Altruria. The girls in the other boats 
kissed their hands to mother and me, and shouted to 
Aristides, and then, when our boat set out for the shore, 
they got on each side of us and sang song after song as 
they pulled even stroke with our crew. Half-way, we 
met three other boats, really manned, these ones, and 
going out to get our baggage, and then you ought to 
have heard the shouting and laughing, that ended in 
more singing, when the young fellows' voices mixed 
with the girls, till they were lost in the welcome that 
came off to us from the crowded quay, where I should 
have thought half Altruria had gathered to receive us. 

134 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

I was afraid it was going to be too much for my 
mother, but she stood it bravely ; and almost at a glance 
people began to take her into consideration, and she 
was delivered over to two young married ladies, who 
saw that she was made comfortable, the first of any, 
in the pretty Kegionic guest-house where they put us. 

I wish I could give you a notion of that guest-house, 
with its cool, quiet rooms, and its lawned and gardened 
enclosure, and a little fountain purring away among the 
flowers ! But what astonished me was that there were j 
no sort of carriages, or wheeled conveyances, which,/ 
after our escort from the ship, I thought might very? 
well have met the returning Emissary and his wife. 
They made my mother get into a litter, with soft cush- 
ions and with lilac curtains blowing round it, and six 
girls carried her up to the house ; but they seemed not 
to imagine my not walking, and, in fact, I could hard- 
ly have imagined it myself, after the first moment of 
queerness. That walk was full of such rich experience 
for every one of the senses that I would not have 
missed a step of it ; but as soon as I could get Aristides 
alone I asked him about horses, and he said that though 
horses were still used in farm work, not a horse was 
allowed in any city or village of Altruria, because of 
their filthiness. As for public vehicles, they used to 
have electric trolleys; in the year that he had been 
absent they had substituted electric motors; but these 
were not running, because it was a holiday on which 
we had happened to arrive. 

There was another incident of my first day which 
I think will amuse you, knowing how I have always 
shrunk from any sort of public appearances. When 
Aristides went to make his report to the people assem- 
bled in a sort of convention, I had to go too, and take 
part in the proceedings; for women are on an entire 

135 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

equality with the men here, and i)euple wuukl be 
shocked if husband and wife were separated in their 
public life. Thej'- did not spare me a single thing. 
Where Aristides was not very clear, or rather not full 
enough, in describing America, I was called on to sup- 
plement, and I had to make several speeches. Of 
course, as I spoke in English, he had to put it into 
Altrurian for me, and it made the greatest excitement. 
The Altrurians are very lively people, and as full of 
the desire to hear some new things as Paul said the men 
of Athens were. At times they were in a perfect gale 
of laughter at what we told them about America. 
Afterwards some of the women confessed to me that 
they liked to hear us speaking English together; it 
sounded like the whistling of birds or the shrilling of 
locusts. But they were perfectly kind, and though 
they laughed it was clear that they laughed at what we 
were saying, and never at us, or at least never at me. 

Of course there was the greatest curiosity to know 
what Aristides' wife looked like, as well as sounded 
like; he had written out about our engagement before 
I broke it; and my clothes were of as much interest as 
myself, or more. You know how I had purposely left 
my latest Paris things behind, so as to come as simply 
as possible to the simple life of Altruria, but still with 
my big leg-of-mutton sleeves, and my picture-hat, and 
my pinched waist, I felt perfectly grotesque, and I have 
no doubt I looked it. They had never seen a lady from 
the capitalistic world before, but only now and then 
a whaling-captain's wife who had come ashore; and I 
knew they were burning to examine my smart clothes 
down to the last button and bit of braid. I had on the 
short skirts of last year, and I could feel ten thousand 
eyes fastened on my high-heeled boots, which you know 
I never went to extremes in. I confess my face burned 

130 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

a little, to realize what a scarecrow I must look, when 
I glanced round at those Altrurian women, whose pretty, 
classic fashions made the whole place like a field of 
lilacs and irises, and knew that they were as comfort- 
able as they were beautiful. Do you remember some 
of the descriptions of the undergraduate maidens in 
the " Princess " — I know you had it at school — where 
they are sitting in the palace halls together? The 
effect was something like that. 

You may be sure that I got out of my things 
as soon as I could borrow an Altrurian costume, 
and now my Paris confections are already hung up 
for monuments, as Pichard III. says, in the Capital- 
istic Museum, where people from the outlying Regions 
may come and study them as object - lessons in what 
not to wear. (You remember what you said Aristides 
told you, when he spoke that day at the mountains, 
about the Pegions that Altruria is divided into ? This 
is the Maritime Region, and the city where we are 
living for the present is the capital.) You may think 
this was rather hard on me, and at first it did seem 
pretty intimate, having my things in a long glass case, 
and it gave me a shock to see them, as if it had been 
my ghost, whenever I passed them. But the fact is 
I was more ashamed than hurt — they were so ugly 
and stupid and useless. I could have borne my Paris 
dress and my picture-hat if it had not been for those 
ridiculous high - heeled, pointed - toe shoes, which the 
Curatress had stood at the bottom of the skirts. They 
looked the most frantic things you can imagine, and the 
mere sight of them made my poor feet aclie in the 
beautiful sandals I am wearing now; when once you 
have put on sandals you say good-bye and good-riddance 
to shoes. In a single month my feet have grown al- 
most a tenth as large again as they were, and my 

137 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

friends here encourage me to believe that thej will yet 
measure nearly the classic size, though, as you know, 
I am not in my first youth and can't expect them to 
do miracles. 

I had to leave off abruptly at the last page because 
Aristides had come in with a piece of news that took 
my mind off everything else. I am afraid you are not 
going to get this letter even at the late date I had set 
for its reaching you, my dear. It seems that there has 
been a sort of mutiny among the crew of our trader, 
which was to sail next week, and now there is no tell- 
ing when she will sail. Ever sincje she came the men 
have been allowed their liberty, as they call it, by 
watches, but the last watch came ashore this week be- 
fore another watch had returned to the ship, and now 
not one of the sailors will go back. They had been 
exploring the country by turns, at their leisure, it 
seems, and their excuse is that they like Altruria bet- 
ter than America, which they say they wish never to 
see again. 

You know (though I didn't, till Aristides explained 
to me) that in any European country the captain in 
such a case would go to his consul, and the consul would 
go to the police, and the police would run the men down 
and send them back to the ship in irons as deserters, 
or put them in jail till the captain was ready to sail, 
and then deliver them up to him. But it seems that 
there is no law in Altruria to do anything of the kind ; 
the only law here that would touch the case is one 
which obliges any citizen to appear and answer the com- 
plaint of any other citizen before the Justiciary Assem- 
bly. A citizen cannot be imprisoned for anything but 
' the rarest offence, like killing a person in a fit of pas- 
sion; and as to seizing upon men who are guilty of 

138 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

nothing worse than wanting to be left to the pursuit 
of happiness, as all the Altrurians are, there is no 
statute and no usage for it. Aristides says that the only 
thing which can be done is to ask the captain and the 
men to come to the Assembly and each state his case. 
The Altrurians are not anxious to have the men stay 
not merely because they are coarse, rude, or vicious, but 
because they thmk they ought to go home and tell the 
Americans what they have seen and heard here, and try 
and get them to found an Altrurian Commonwealth of 
their own. Still they will not compel them to go, and the 
magistrates do not wish to rouse any sort of sentiment 
against them They feel that the men are standing on 
heir natural rights, which they could not abdicate if 
hey would. I know this will appear perfectly ridicu- 
lous to Mr. Makely, and I confess myself that there 
seems something binding in a contract which ought to 
act on the men's consciences, at least. 



Ill 



Well, my dear Dorothea, the hearing before the 
Assembly is over, and it has left us just where it found 
us, as far as the departure of our trader is concerned. 

How I wish you could liave been there! The hear- 
ing lasted three days, and I would not have missed a 
minute of it. *As it was, I did not miss a syllable, and 
it was so deeply printed on my mind that I believe I 
could repeat it word for word if I had to. But, in the 
first place, I must try and realize the scene to you. I 
was once summoned as a witness in one of our courts, 
you remember, and I have never forgotten the horror 
of it: the hot, dirty room, with its foul air, the brutal 
spectators, the policemen stationed among them to keep 
them in order, the lawyers with the plaintiff and de- 
fendant seated all at one table, the uncouth abruptness 
of the clerks and janitors, or whatever, the undignified 
magistrate, who looked as if his lunch had made him 
drowsy, and who seemed half asleep, as he slouched in 
his arm-chair behind his desk. Instead of such a set- 
ting as this, you must imagine a vast marble amphi- 
theatre, larger than the Metropolitan Opera, by three 
or four times, all the gradines overflowing (that is the 
word for the "liquefaction of the clothes" which poured 
over them), and looking like those Bermudan waters 
where the colors of the rainbow seem dropped around 
the coast. On the platform, or stage, sat the Presidents of 
the Assembly, and on a tier of seats behind and above 
them, the national Magistrates, who, as this is the cap- 

140 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

ital of the republic for the time being, had decided to 
be present at the hearing, because they thought the case 
so very important. In the hollow space, just below 
(like that where you remember the Chorus stood in 
that Greek play which we saw at Harvard ages ago), 
were the captain and the first -mate on one hand, and 
the seamen on the other; the second-mate, our particular 
friend, was not there because he never goes ashore any- 
where, and had chosen to remain with the black cook in 
charge of the ship. The captain's wife would rather 
have stayed with them, but I persuaded her to come to 
us for the days of the hearing, because the captain had 
somehow thought we were opposed to him, and because 
I thought she ought to be there to encourage him by her 
presence. She sat next to me, in a hat which I wish 
you could have seen, Dolly, and a dress which would 
have set your teeth on edge ; but inside of them I knew 
she was one of the best souls in the world, and I loved 
her the more for being the sight she was among those 
wonderful Altrurian women. 

The weather was perfect, as it nearly always is at 
this time of year — warm, yet fresh, with a sky of that 
" bleu impossible " of the Kiviera on the clearest day. 
Some people had parasols, but they put them down as 
soon as the hearing began, and everybody could see per- 
fectly. You would have thought they could not hear 
so well, but a sort of immense sounding - plane was 
curved behind the stage, so that not a word of the testi- 
mony on either side was lost to me in English. The 
Altrurian translation was given the second day of the 
hearing through a megaphone, as different in tone from 
the thing that the man in the Grand Central Station 
bellows the trains through as the vox-Tiumana stop of 
an organ is different from the fog-horn of a light-house. 
The captain's wife was bashful, in her odd American 

141 



THROUGn THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

dress, but we had got seats near the tribune, rather out 
of sight, and there was nothing to hinder our hearing, 
like the frou-frou of stiff silks or starched skirts (which 
I am afraid we poor things in America like to make 
when we move) from the soft, filmy tissues that the Al- 
trurian women wear ; but I must confess that there was 
a good deal of whispering while the captain and the men 
were telling their stories. But no one except the in- 
terpreters, who were taking their testimony down in 
short-hand, to be translated into Altrurian and read at 
the subsequent hearing, could imderstand what they 
were saying, and so nobody was disturbed by the mur- 
murs. The whispering was mostly near me, where I 
sat with the captain's wife, for everybody I knew got 
as close as they could and studied my face when they 
thought anything important or significant had been 
said. They are very quick at reading faces here; in 
fact, a great deal of the conversation is carried on in 
that way, or with the visible speech ; and my Altrurian 
friends knew almost as well as I did when the speakers 
came to an interesting point. It was rather embarrass- 
ing for me, though, with the poor captain's wife at 
my side, to tell them, in my broken Altrurian, what 
the men were accusing the captain of. 

I talk of the men, but it was really only one of them 
who at first, by their common consent, spoke for the 
rest. He was a middle-aged Yankee, and almost the 
only born American among them, for you know that 
our sailors, nowadays, are of every nationality under 
the sun — Portuguese, I^orwegians, Greeks, Italians, 
Kanucks, and Kanakas, and even Cape Cod Indians. 
He said he guessed his story was the story of most 
sailors, and he had followed the sea his whole life. His 
story was dreadful, and I tried to persuade the cap- 
tain's wife not to come to the hearing the next day, 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

when it was to be read in Altrurian; but she would 
come. I was afraid she would be overwhelmed bj the 
public compassion, and would not know what to do; 
for when something awful that the sailor had said 
against the captain was translated the women all about 
us cooed their sympathy with her, and pressed her hand 
if they could, or patted her on the shoulder, to show 
how much they pitied her. In Altruria they pity the 
friends of those who have done wrong, and sometimes 
even the wrong-doers themselves ; and it is quite a lux- 
ury, for there is so little wrong-doing here : I tell them 
that in America they would have as much pitying to 
do as they could possibly ask. After the hearing that 
day my friends, who were of a good many different 
Refectories, as we call them here, wanted her to go and 
lunch wath them ; but I got her quietly home with me, 
and after she had had something to eat I made her lie 
down awhile. 

You won't care to have me go fully into the affair. 
The sailors' spokesman told how he had been born on a 
farm, w^here he had shared the family drudgery and 
poverty till he grew old enough to run away. He 
meant to go to sea, but he went first to a factory town 
and worked three or four years in the mills. He never 
went back to the farm, but he sent a little money 
now and then to his mother; and he stayed on till he 
got into trouble. He did not say just what kind of 
trouble, but I fancied it was some sort of love-trouble; 
he blamed himself for it; and when he left that town 
to get away from the thought of it, as much as any- 
thing, and went to work in another town, he took to 
drink ; then, once, in a drunken spree, he found himself 
in ISTew York without knowing how. But it was in 
what he called a sailors' boarding-house, and one morn- 
ing, after he had been drinking overnight " with a very 
" 143 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

pleasant gentleman," he found himself in the forecastle 
of a ship bovmd for Holland, and when the mate came 
and cursed him up and cursed him out he found himself 
in the foretop. I give it partly in his own language, 
because I cannot help it ; and I only wish I could give 
it wholly in his language ; it was so graphic and so full 
of queer Yankee humor. From that time on, he said, 
he had followed the sea; and at sea he was always a 
good temperance man, but Altruria was the only place 
he had ever kept sober ashore. He guessed that was 
partly because there was nothing to drink but unfer- 
mented grape-juice, and partly because there w^as no- 
body to drink vnth; anyhow, he had not had a drop 
here. Every^vhere else, as soon as he left his ship, he 
made for a sailors' boarding-house, and then he did not 
know much till he found himself aboard ship and bound 
for somewhere that he did not know of. He was always, 
he said, a stolen man, as much as a negro captured on 
the west coast of Africa and sold to a slaver; and, he 
said, it was a slave's life he led between drinks, whether 
it was a long time or short. He said he would ask his 
mates if it was very different with them, and when he 
turned to them they all shouted back, in their various 
kinds of foreign accents, ISTo, it was just the same with 
them, every one. Then he said that was how he came 
to ship on our captain's vessel, and though they could 
not all say the same, they nodded confirmation as far 
as he was concerned. 

The captain looked sheepish enough at this, but he 
looked sorrowful, too, as if he could have wished it had 
been different, and he asked the man if he had been 
abused since he came on board. Well, the man said, 
not unless you called tainted salt-horse and weevilly 
biscuit abuse ; and then the captain sat down again, and 
I could feel his poor wife shrinking beside me. The 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

man said that he was comparatively well off on the cap- 
tain's ship, and the life was not half such a dog's life 
as he had led on other vessels; but it was such that 
when he got ashore here in Altruria, and saw how 
wliite people lived, people that used each other white, 
he made up his mind that he would never go back to 
any ship alive. He hated a ship so much that if he 
could go home to America as a first-class passenger 
on a Cunard liner, John D. Eockefeller would not 
have money enough to hire him to do it. He was 
going to stay in Altruria till he died, if they would 
let him, and he guessed they would, if what he had 
heard about them was true. He just wanted, he said, 
while we were about it, to have a few of his mates tell 
their experience, not so much on board the Little 
Sally, but on shore, and since they could remember; 
and one after another did get up and tell their miser- 
able stories. They were like the stories you sometimes 
read in your paper over your coffee, or that you can 
hear any time you go into the congested districts in 
ISTew York; but I assure you, my dear, they seemed 
to me perfectly incredible here, though I had kno^vn 
hundreds of such stories at home. As I realized their 
facts I forgot where I was; I felt that I was back 
again in that horror, where it sometimes seemed to me 
I had no right to be fed or clothed or warm or clean 
in the midst of the hunger and cold and nakedness and 
dirt, and where I could only reconcile myself to my 
comfort because I knew my discomfort would not help 
others' misery. 

I can hardly tell how, but even the first day a 
sense of something terrible spread through that mul- 
titude of people, to whom the words themselves were 
mere empty sounds. The captain sat through it, 
with his head drooping, till his face was out of 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

sight, and the tears ran silently do^vn his wife's 
cheeks ; and the women round me were somehow awed 
into silence. When the men ended, and there seemed 
to be no one else to say anything on that side, the 
captain jumped to his feet, with a sort of ferocious 
energy, and shouted out, " Are you all through, men ?" 
and their spokesman answered, " Aj, ay, sir I" and 
then the captain flung back his grizzled hair and shook 
his fist toAvards the sailors. " And do you think I 
wanted to do it ? Do you think I liked to do it ? Do 
you think that if I hadn't been afraid my whole life 
long I would have had the lieart to lead you the dog's 
life I know I've led you? I've been as poor as the 
poorest of you, and as low down as the lowest; I was 
born in the town poor-house, and I've been so afraid 
of the poor-house all my days that I hain't had, as you 
may say, a minute's peace. Ask my wife, there, what sort 
of a man I am, and whether I'm the man, really the 
man that's been hard and mean to you the way I know 
I been. It w^as because I "was afraid, and because a 
coward is always hard and mean. I been afraid, ever 
since I could remember anything, of coming to want, 
and I was willing to see other men suffer so I could 
make sure that me and mine shouldn't suffer. That's 
the way we do at home, ain't it ? That's in the day's 
work, ain't it? That's playing the game, ain't it, for 
everybody ? You can't say it ain't." He stopped, and 
the men's spokesman called back, " Ay, ay, sir," as he 
had done before, and as I had often heard the men do 
when given an order on the ship. 

The captain gave a kind of sobbing laugh, and went 
on in a lower tone. " Well, I know you ain't going 
back. I guess I didn't expect it much from the start, 
and I giiess I'm not surprised." Then he lifted his 
head and shouted, " And do you suppose I want to go 

146 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

back? Don't you suppose I would like to spend the 
rest of my days, too, among white people, people that 
use each other white, as you say, and where there ain't 
any want or, what's worse, fear of want ? Men ! There 
ain't a day, or an hour, or a minute, when I don't think 
how awful it is over there, where I got to be either some 
man's slave or some man's master, as much so as if it 
was down in the ship's articles. My wife ain't so, be- 
cause she ain't been ashore here. I wouldn't let her; 
I was afraid to let her see what a white man's country 
really was, because I felt so weak about it myself, and 
I didn't want to put the trial on her, too. And do you 
know wliy we're going back, or want to go? I guess 
some of you know, but I want to tell these folks here 
so they'll understand, and I want you, Mr. Homos,'* 
he called to my husband, " to get it down straight. It's 
because we've got two little children over there, that 
we left with their grandmother when my wife come with 
me this voyage because she had lung difficulty and 
wanted to see whether she could get her health back. 
Nothing else on God's green earth could take me back 
to America, and I guess it couldn't my wife if she knew 
what Altruria was as well as I do. But when I went 
around here and saw how everything was, and remem- 
bered how it was at home, I just said, ' She'll stay on 
the ship.' Kow, that's all I got to say, though I thought 
I had a lot more. I guess it '11 be enough for these 
folks, and they can judge between us." Then the cap- 
tain sat down, and to make a long story short, the facts 
of the hearing were repeated in Altrurian the next day 
by megaphone, and when the translation was finished 
there was a general rush for the captain. He plainly 
expected to be lynched, and his wife screamed out, " Oh, 
don't hurt him ! He isn't a bad man !" But it was 
only the Altrurian way with a guilty person: they 

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TIIKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

wanted to let him know how sorry they were for hirn, 
and since his sin had found him out how hopeful they 
were for his redemption. I had to explain it to the 
sailors as well as to the captain and his wife, but I don't 
believe any of them quite accepted the fact. 

The third day of the hearing was for the rendering 
of the decision, first in Altrurian, and then in English. 
The verdict of the magistrates had to be confirmed 
by a standing vote of the people, and of course the 
women voted as well as the men. The decision was 
that the sailors should be absolutely free to go or stay, 
but they took into account the fact that it would be 
cruel to keej) the captain and his wife away from 
their little ones, and the sailors might wish to consider 
this. If they still remained true to their love of Al- 
truria they could find some means of returning. 

When the translator came to this point their spokes- 
man jumped to his feet and called out to the captain, 
"Will you do it?" "Do what?" he asked, getting 
slowly to his own feet. " Come back with us after you 
have seen the kids?" The captain shook his fist at 
the sailors; it seemed to be the only gesture he had 
with them. " Give me the chance ! All I want is to 
see the children and bring them out with me to Al- 
truria, and the old * folks with them." " Will you 
^wear it ? Will you say, ' I hope I may find the kids 
dead and buried when I get home if I don't do it ' ?" 
" I'll take that oath, or any oath you want me to." 
" Shake hands on it, then," 

The two men met in front of the tribunal and clasped 
hands there, and their reconciliation did not need trans- 
lation. Such a roar of cheers went up ! And then the 
whole assembly burst out in the national Altrurian an- 
them, "Brothers All." I wish you could have heard it! 
But when the terms of the agTeement were explained, 

148 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

« 

the cheering that had gone before was a mere whisper 
to what followed. One orator after another rose and 
praised the self-sacrifice of the sailors. I was the 
proudest when the last of them referred to Aristides and 
tlie reports which he had sent home from America, and 
said that without some such study as he had made of 
the American character they never could have under- 
stood such an act as they were now witnessing. Illog- 
ical and insensate as their system was, their char- 
acter sometimes had a beauty, a sublimity which; 
was not possible to Altrurians even, for it was per-i 
formed in the face of risks and chances which their 
happy conditions relieved them from. At the same 
time, the orator wished his hearers to consider the 
essential immorality of the act. He said that civil- 
ized men had no right to take these risks and chances. 
The sailors were perhaps justified, in so far as they were 
homeless, wifeless, and childless men; but it must not 
be forgotten that their heroism was like the reckless 
generosity of savages. 

The men have gone back to the ship, and she sails 
this afternoon. I have persuaded the captain to let 
his wife stay to lunch with me at our Refectory, where 
the ladies wish to bid her good-bye, and I am hurrying 
forward this letter so that she can take it on board 
with her this afternoon. She has promised to post 
it on the first Pacific steamer they meet, or if they do 
not meet any to send it forward to you with a special- 
delivery stamp as soon as they reach Eoston. She will 
also forward by express an Altrurian costume, such 
as I am now wearing, sandals and all ! Do put it on, 
Dolly, dear, for my sake, and realize what it is for 
once in your life to be a free woman. 

Heaven knows when I shall have another chance of 
getting letters to you. But T shall live in hopes, and I 

149 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

sliall set down my experiences here for your benefit, not 
perhaps as I meet them, but as I think of them, and 
you must not mind having a rather cluttered narrative. 
To-morrow we are setting off on our round of the cap- 
itals, where Aristides is to make a sort of public report 
to the people of the different Regions on the working of 
the capitalistic conditions as he observed them among 
us. But I don't expect to send you a continuous nar- 
rative of our adventures. Good-bye, dearest, with my 
mother's love, and my husband's as well as my own, to 
both of 5'ou; think of me as needing nothing but a 
glimpse of you to complete my happiness. How I 
should like to tell you fully about it ! You must come 
to Altruria! 

I came near letting this go without telling you of one 
curious incident of the affair between the captain and 
his men. Before the men returned to the ship they 
came with their spokesman to say good-bye to Aristides 
and me, and he remarked casually that it was just as 
well, maybe, to be going back, because, for one thing, 
they would know then whether it was real or not. I 
asked him what he meant, and he said, " Well, you 
know, some of the mates think it's a dream here, or it's 
too good to be true. As far forth as I go, I'd be willing 
to have it a dream that I didn't ever have to wake up 
from. It ain't any too good to be true for me. Any- 
way, I'm going to get back somehow, and give it another 
chance to be a fact." Wasn't that charming ? It had 
a real touch of poetry in it, but it was prose that fol- 
lowed. I couldn't help asking him Avhether there had 
been nothing to mar the pleasure of their stay in Altru- 
ria, and he answered : " Well, I don't know as you could 
rightly say mar; it hadn't ought to have. You see, it 
was like this. You see, some of the mates wanted to 

150 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

lay off and have a regular bange, but that don't seem to 
be the idea here. After we had been ashore a day or 
two they set us to work at different jobs, or wanted to. 
The mates didn't take hold very lively, and some of 'em 
didn't take hold a bit. But after that went on a couple 
of days, there wa'n't any breakfast one morning, and 
come noontime there wa'n't any dinner, and as far 
forth as they could make out they had to go to bed 
without supper. Then they called a halt, and tackled 
one of your head men here that could speak some Eng- 
lish. He didn't answer them right off the reel, but he 
got out his English Testament and he read 'em a verse 
that said, ^ Eor even when we were with you this we 
commanded you, that if any one would not work neither 
should he eat.' That kind of fetched 'em, and after 
that there wa'n't any sojerin', well not to speak of. 
They saw he meant business. I guess it did more than 
any one thing to make 'em think they wa'n't dreamin'." 



IV 



You must not think, Dollj, from anything I have 
been telling you that the Altriirians are ever harsh. 
Sometimes they cannot realize how things really are 
with ns, and how what seems grotesque and hideous to 
them seems charming and beautiful, or at least chic, to 
us. But they are wonderfully quick to see when they 
have hurt you the least, and in the little sacrifices I have 
made of my wardrobe to the cause of general knowledge 
there has not been the least urgence from them. When 
I now look at the things I used to wear, where they 
have been finally placed in the ethnological depart- 
ment of the Museum, along with the Esquimau kyaks 
and the Thlinkeet totems, they seem like things I wore 
in some prehistoric age — 

" When wild in woods the noble savage ran." 

iNow, am I being unkind? Well, you mustn't mind 
me, Dolly. You must just say, " She lias got it bad," 
and go on and learn as much about Altruria as you can 
from me. Some of the things were hard to get used to, 
and at first seemed quite impossible. For one thing, 
there was the matter of service, which is dishonorable 
with us, and honorable with the Altrurians: I was a 
long time getting to understand that, though I knew it 
perfectly well from hearing my husband talk about it 
in 'New York. I believe he once came pretty near 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

offending jou by asking why you did not do your o^vn 
work, or something like that ; he has confessed as much, 
and I could not wonder at you in your conditions. 
Why, when we first went to the guest-house, and the 
pretty young girls who brought in lunch sat down at 
table to eat it with us, I felt the indignation making 
me hot all over. You know how democratic I am, and 
I did not mind those great, splendid boat-girls hugging 
and kissing me, but I instinctively drew the line at 
cooks and waitresses. In I^ew York, you know, I al- 
ways tried to be kind to my servants, but as for letting 
one of them sit down in my presence, much less sit dowii 
at table with me, I never dreamed of such a thing in my 
most democratic moments. Luckily I drew the line 
subjectively here, and later I found that these young 
ladies were daughters of some of the most distinguished 
men and women on the continent, though you must not 
understand distinction as giving any sort of social pri- 
macy; that sort of thing is not allowed in Altruria. 
They had drawn lots with the girls in the Eegionic 
school here, and were proud of having won the honor 
of waiting on us. Of course, I needn't say they were 
what we would have felt to be ladies anywhere, and 
their manners were exquisite, even to leaving us alone 
together as soon as we had finished luncheon. The meal 
itself was something I shall always remember for its 
delicious cooking of the different kinds of mushrooms 
which took the place of meat, and the wonderful salads, 
and the temperate and tropical fruits which we had for 
dessert. 

They had to talk mostly with my husband, of course, 
and when they did talk to me it was through him. They 
were very intelligent about our world, much more than 
we are about Altruria, though, of course, it was by 
deduction from premises rather than specific informa- 

153 



THKOUGII THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

tion, and they wanted to ask a thousand questions ; but 
they saw the joke of it, and laughed with us when 
Aristides put them off with a promise that if they 
would have a public meeting appointed we would ap- 
pear and answer all the questions anybody could think 
of; we were not going to waste our answers on 
them the first day. He wanted them to let us go out 
and help wash the dishes, but they would not hear of 
it. I confess I was rather glad of that, for it seemed 
a lower depth to which I could not descend, even after 
eating with them. But they invited us out to look at 
the kitchen, after they had got it in order a little, and 
when we joined them there, whom should I see but 
my own dear old mother, with an apron up to her chin, 
wiping the glass and watching carefully through her 
dear old spectacles that she got everything bright ! You 
know she was of a simpler day than ours, and when she 
was young she used to do her o^vn work, and she and 
my father always washed the dishes together after they 
had company. I merely said, " Well, mother !" and she 
laughed and colored, and said she guessed she should 
(like it in Altruria, for it took her back to the America 
j she used to know. 

I must mention things as they come into my head, 
and not in any regular order; there are too many of 
them. One thing is that I did not notice till afterwards 
that we had had no meat that first day at luncheon — 
the mushrooms were so delicious, and you know I never 
was much of a meat-eater. It was not till we began to 
make our present tour of the Regionic capitals, where 
Aristides has had to repeat his account of American 
civilization until I am sick as well as ashamed of 
America, that I first felt a kind of famine which I kept 
myself from recognizing as long as I could. Then I 
had to own to myself, long before I owned it to him, 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

that I was hungry for meat — for roast, for broiled, for 
fried, for hashed. I did not actually tell him, but he 
found it out, and I could not deny it, though I felt 
such an ogre in it. He was terribly grieved, and blamed 
himself for not having thought of it, and wished he had 
got some canned meats from the trader before she left 
the port. He was really in despair, for nobody since 
the old capitalistic times had thought of killing sheep 
or cattle for food; they have them for wool and milk 
and butter ; and of course when I looked at them in the 
fields it did seem rather formidable. You are so used 
to seeing them in the butchers' shops, ready for the 
range, that you never think of what they have to go 
through before that. But at last I managed to gasp 
out, one day, " If I could only have a chicken !" 
and he seemed to think that it could be managed. I 
don't know how he made interest with the authorities, 
or how the authorities prevailed on a farmer to part 
with one of his precious pullets ; but the thing was done 
somehow, and two of the farmer's children brought it 
to us at one of the guest-houses where we were staying, 
and then fled howling. That was bad enough, but what 
followed was worse. I went another day on mush- 
rooms before I had the heart to say chicken again and 
suggest that Aristides should get it killed and dressed. 
The poor fellow did try, I believe, but we had to fall 
back upon ourselves for the murderous deed, and — 
Did you ever see a chicken have its head cut off, and 
how hideously it behaves ? It made us both wish we 
were dead ; and the sacrifice of that one piUlet was quite 
enough for me. We buried the poor thing under the 
flowers of the guest-house garden, and I went back to 
my mushrooms after a visit of contrition to the farmer 
and many attempts to bring his children to forgiveness. 
After all, the Altrurian mushrooms are wonderfully 

155 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

noil ri shine;, and they arc in such variety that, what with 
other succulent vegetables and the endless range of 
fruits and nuts, one does not wish for meat — meat that 
one has killed one's self ! 



I WISH you could be making tour of the Regionic 
capitals with us, Dolly! There are swift little one- 
rail electric expresses running daily from one capital 
to another, but these are used only when speed is re- 
quired, and we are confessedly in no hurry: Aristides 
wanted me to see as much of the country as possible, 
and I am as eager as he. The old steam-roads of the 
capitalistic epoch have been disused for generations, 
and their beds are now the country roads, which are 
everywhere kept in beautiful repair. There are no 
horse vehicles (the electric motors are employed in the 
towns), though some people travel on horseback, but 
the favorite means of conveyance is by electric van, 
which any citizen may have on proof of his need of it ; 
and it is comfortable beyond compare — mounted on 
easy springs, and curtained and cushioned like those 
gypsy vans we see in the country at home. Aristides 
drives himself, and sometimes we both get out and 
walk, for there is plenty of time. 

I don't know whether I can make you understand 
how everything has tended to simplification here. 
They have disused the complicated facilities and con- 
veniences of the capitalistic epoch, which we are so 
proud of, and have got back as close as possible to 
nature. People stay at home a great deal more than 
with us, though if any one likes to make a journey or 
to visit the capitals he is quite free to do it, and those 
who have some liseful or beautiful object in view make 

157 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

the sacrifice, as they feel it, to leave their villages every 
day and go to the nearest capital to carry on their 
studies or experiments. What we consider modern con- 
veniences they would consider a superfluity of naugh- 
tiness for the most part. As luorh is the ideal, they do 
not believe in what we call labor-saving devices. 

When we approach a village on our journey, one 
of the villagers, sometimes a young man, and some- 
times a girl, comes out to meet us, and when we pass 
through they send some one with us on the way a 
little. The people have a perfect inspiration for hos- 
pitality : they not only know when to do and how much 
to do, but how little and when not at all. I can't re- 
member that we have ever once been bored by those 
nice young things that welcomed us or speeded us on 
our way, and w^hen we have stopped in a village they 
have shown a genius for leaving us alone, after the first 
welcome, that is beautiful. They are so regardful 
of our privacy, in fact, that if it had not been for Aris- 
tides, who explained their ideal to me, I should have 
felt neglected sometimes, and should have been shy of 
letting them know that we would like their company. 
But he understood it, and I must say that I have never 
enjoyed people and their ways so much. Their hos- 
pitality is a sort of compromise between that of the 
English houses where you are left free at certain 
houses to follow your ovm devices absolutely, and that 
Spanish splendor which assures you that the host's 
house is yours without meaning it. In fact, the guest- 
house, wherever we go, is ours, for it belongs to the 
community, and it is absolutely a home to us for the 
time being. It is usually the best house in the village, 
the prettiest and cosiest, where all the houses are so 
pretty and cosey. There is always another building 
for public meetings, called the temple, which is the 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

principal edifice, marble and classic and tasteful, which 
we see almost as much of as the guest-house, for the 
news of the Emissary's return has preceded him, and 
everybody is alive with curiosity, and he has to stand 
and deliver in the village temples everywhere. Of 
course I am the great attraction, and after being scared 
by it at first I have rather got to like it ; the people are 
so kind, and unaffected, and really delicate. 

You mustn't get the notion that the Altrurians are a 
solemn people at all ; they are rather gay, and they like 
other people's jokes as well as their own; I am sure 
Mr. Makely, with his sense of humor, would be at home 
with them at once. The one thing that more than any 
other has helped them to conceive of the American 
situation is its being the gigantic joke which we often 
feel it to be ; I don't know but it appears to them more 
grotesque than it does to us even. At first, when Aris- 
tides would explain some peculiarity of ours, they 
would receive him with a gale of laughing, but this 
might change into cries of horror and pity later. One 
of the things that amused and then revolted them 
most was our patriotism. They thought it the drollest 
thing in the world that men should be willing to give 
their own lives and take the lives of other men for the 
sake of a country which assured them no safety from 
want, and did not even assure them work, and in 
which they had no more logical interest than the 
country they were going to fight. They could under- 
stand how a rich man might volunteer for one of our 
wars, but w^hen they were told that most of our volun- 
teers were poor men, who left their mothers and sisters, 
or their wives and children, without any means of sup- 
port, except their meagre pay, they were quite bewil- 
dered and stopped laughing, as if the thing had passed 
a joke. They asked, " How if one of these citizen 

159 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

soldiers was killed?" and they seemed to suppose that 
in this case the country would provide for his family 
and give them work, or if the children were too 
yoimg would support them at the puhlic expense. It 
made me creep a little when my husband answered 
that the family of a crippled or invalided soldier 
would have a pension of eight or ten or fifteen dollars 
a month; and when they came back with the question 
why the citizens of such a country should love it enough 
to die for it, I could not have said why for the life of 
me. But Aristides, who is so magnificently generous, 
tried to give them a notion of the sublimity which is 
at the bottom of our illogicality and which adjusts so 
many apparently hopeless points of our anomaly. They 
asked how this sublimity differed from that of the 
savage who brings in his game and makes a feast for the 
whole tribe, and leaves his wife and children without 
provision against future want ; but Aristides told them 
that there were essential differences between the Amer- 
icans and savages, which arose from the fact that the 
savage condition was permanent and the American 
conditions were unconsciously provisional. 

They are quite well informed about our life in some 
respects, but they wished to hear at first hand whether 
certain things were really so or not. For instance, they 
wanted to know whether people were allowed to marry 
and bring children into the world if they had no hopes 
of supporting them or educating them, or whether dis- 
eased people were allowed to become parents. In Al- 
truria, you know, the families are generally small, only 
two or three children at the most, so that the parents 
can devote themselves to them the more fully; and as 
there is no fear of want here, the state interferes only 
when the parents are manifestly unfit to bring the little 
ones up. They imagined that there was something of 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

tluit kind with us, but when they heard that the state 
interfered in the family only when the children were 
unruly, and then it punished the children by sending 
them to a reform school and disgracing them for life, 
instead of holding the parents accountable, they seemed 
to think that it was one of the most anomalous features 
of our great anomaly. Here, when the father and 
mother are always quarrelling, the children are taken 
from them, and the pair are separated, at first for a 
time, but after several chances for reform they are 
parted permanently. 

But I must not give you the notion that all our con- 
ferences are so serious. Many have merely the char- 
acter of social entertainments, which are not made here 
for invited guests, but for any who choose to come; 
all are welcome. At these there are often plays given 
by amateurs, and improvised from plots which supply 
the outline, while the performers supply the dialogue 
and action, as in the old Italian comedies. The Al- 
trurians are so quick and fine, in fact, that they often 
remind me of the Italians more than any other people. 
One night there was for my benefit an American play, 
as the Altrurians imagined it from what they had read 
about us, and they had costumed it from the pictures of 
us they had seen in the newspapers Aristides had sent 
home while he was with us. The effect was a good deal 
like that American play which the Japanese company 
of Sada Yacco gave while it was in K^ew York. It was all 
about a millionaire's daughter, who was loved by a poor 
young man and escaped with him to Altruria in an 
open boat from 'New York. The millionaire could be 
distinctly recognized by the dollar-marks which covered 
him all over, as they do in the caricatures of rich men 
in our yellow journals. It was funny to the last degree. 
In the last act he was seen giving his millions away to 

IGl 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

poor people, whose multitude was represented by tlie 
continually coming and going of four or five performers 
in and out of the door, in outrageously ragged clothes. 
The Altrurians have not yet imagined the nice de- 
grees of poverty which we have achieved, and they could 
not have understood that a man with a hundred thou- 
sand dollars would have seemed poor to that multi- 
millionaire. In fact, they do not grasp the idea of 
money at all. I heard afterwards that in the usual 
version the millionaire commits suicide in despair, but 
the piece had been given a happy ending out of kindness 
to me. I must say that in spite of the monstrous mis- 
conception the acting was extremely good, especially 
that of some comic characters. 

But dancing is the great national amusement in Al- 
truria, where it has not altogether lost its religious nat- 
ure. A sort of march in the temples is as much a part 
of the worship as singing, and so dancing has been pre- 
served from the disgrace which it used to be in with se- 
rious people among us. In the lovely afternoons you see 
young people dancing in the meadows, and hear them 
shouting in time to the music, while the older men and 
women watch them from their seats in the shade. 
Every sort of pleasure here is improvised, and as you 
pass~through a village the first thing you know the 
young girls and young men start up in a sort of giran- 
dole, and linking hands in an endless chain stretch the 
figure along through the street and out over the high- 
way to the next village, and the next and the next. The 
work has all been done in the forenoon, and every one 
who chooses is at liberty to join in the fun. 

The villages are a good deal alike to a stranger, and 
we knew what to expect there after a while, but the 
country is perpetually varied, and the unexpected is 
always happening in it. The old railroad - beds, on 

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THROUGH THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

which we travelled, are planted with fruit and nut trees 
and flowering shrubs, and our progress is through a 
fragrant bower that is practically endless, except where 
it takes the shape of a colonnade near the entrance of 
a village, with vines trained about white pillars, and 
clusters of grapes (which are ripening just now) hang- 
ing down. The change in the climate created by cut- 
ting off the southeastern peninsula and letting in the 
equatorial current, which was begun under the first 
Altrurian president, with an unexpended war-appro- 
priation, and finished for what one of the old capital- 
istic wars used to cost, is something perfectly astonish- 
ing. Aristides says he told you something about it in 
his speech at the White Mountains, but you would never 
believe it without the evidence of your senses. Whole 
regions to the southward, which were nearest the pole 
and were sheeted with ice and snow, with the tempera- 
ture and vegetation of Labrador, now have the climate 
of Italy; and the mountains, which used to bear nothing 
but glaciers, are covered with olive orchards and plan- 
tations of the delicious coffee which they drink here. 
Aristides says you could have the same results at home 
— no ! in the United States — by cutting off the western 
shore of Alaska and letting in the Japanese current; 
and it could be done at the cost of any average war. 



VI 



But I must not get away from my personal experi- 
ences in these international statistics. Sometimes, when 
night overtakes lis, we stop and camp beside the road, 
and set about getting our supper of eggs and bread and 
butter and cheese, or the fruits that are ripening all 
round us. Since my experience with that pullet I go 
meekly mushrooming in the fields and pastures; and 
when I have set the mushrooms stewing over an open 
fire, Aristides makes the coffee, and in a little while we 
have a banquet fit for kings — or for the poor things in 
every grade below them that serve kings, political or 
financial or industrial. There is always water, for it 
is brought down from the snow-fields of the mountains 
— there is not much rainfall — and carried in little con- 
crete channels along the road-side from village to vil- 
lage, something like those conduits the Italian peasants 
use to bring down the water from the Maritime Alps 
to their fields and orchards; and you hear the soft 
gurgle of it the whole night long, and day long, too, 
whenever you stop. After supper we can read awhile 
by our electric lamp (we tap the current in the tele- 
phone wires anywhere), or Aristides sacrifices himself 
to me in a lesson of Altrurian grammar. Then we 
creep back into our van and fall asleep with the 
Southern Cross glittering over our heads. It is per- 
fectly safe, though it was a long time before I could 
imagine the perfect safety of it. In a country where 
there are no thieves, because a thief here would not 

164 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

know wliat to do with his booty, we are secure 
from human molestation, and the land has long been 
cleared of all sorts of wild beasts, without being un- 
pleasantly tamed. It is like England in that, and 
yet it has a touch of the sylvan, which you feel 
nowhere as you do in our dear ISTew England hill 
country. There was one night, however, when we were 
lured on and on, and did not stop to camp till fairly 
in the dusk. Then we went to sleep without supper, 
for we had had father a late lunch and were not hungry, 
and about one o'clock in the morning I was awakened 
by voices speaking Altrurian together. I recognized 
my husband's voice, which is always so kind, but which 
seemed to have a peculiarly tender and compassionate 
note in it now. The other was lower and of a sadness 
which wrung my heart, though I did not know in the 
least what the person was saying. The talk went on a 
long time, at first about some matter of immediate in- 
terest, as I fancied, and then apparently it branched off 
on some topic which seemed to concern the stranger, 
whoever he was. Then it seemed to get more indis- 
tinct, as if the stranger were leaving us and Aristides 
were going a little way with him. Presently I heard 
him coming back, and he put his head in at the van 
curtains, as if to see whether I was asleep. 

" Well ?" I said, and he said how sorry he was for 
having waked me. " Oh, I don't mind," I said. 
" Whom were you talking with ? He had the saddest 
voice I ever heard. What did he want?" 

" Oh, it seems that we are not far from the ruins 
of one of the old capitalistic cities, which have been 
left for a sort of warning against the former conditions, 
and he wished to caution us against the malarial in- 
fluences from it. I think perhaps we had better push 
on a little way, if you don't mind." 

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THROUGH THE EYE OE THE NEEDLE 

The moon was sbining clearly, and of course I did 
not mind, and Aristides got his hand on the lever, and 
we were soon getting out of the dangerons zone. " I 
think," he said, " they ought to abolish that pest-hole. 
I doubt if it serves any good purpose, now, though it 
has been useful in times past as an object-lesson." 

" But who was your unknown friend ?" I asked, a 
gi'eat deal more curious about him than about the 
capitalistic ruin. 

" Oh, just a poor murderer," he answered easily, 
and I shuddered back : 

" A murderer !" 

" Yes. He killed his friend some fifteen years ago 
in a jealous rage, and he is pursued by remorse that 
gives him no peace." 

" And is the remorse his only punishment V I asked, 
rather indignantly. 

" Isn't that enough ? God seemed to think it was, 
in the case of the first murderer, who killed his 
brother. All that he did to Cain was to set a mark on 
him. But we have not felt sure that we have the right 
to do this. AVe let God mark him, and He has done 
it with this man in the sorrow of his face. I was rather 
glad you couldn't see him, my dear. It is an awful 
face." 

I confess that this sounded like mere sentimental- 
ism to me, and I said, "Really, Aristides, I can't 
follow you. How are innocent people to be protected 
against this wretch, if he wanders about among them 
at will?" 

" They are as safe from him as from any other man 
in Altruria. His case was carefully looked into by the 
medical authorities, and it was decided that he was per- 
fectly sane, so that he could be safely left at large, to 
expiate his misdeed in the only possible way that such 

IGG 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

a misdeed can be expiated — by doing good to others. 
What would you have had us do with him ?" 

The question rather staggered me, but I said, " He 
ought to have been imprisoned at least a year for 
manslaughter." 

" Cain was not imprisoned an hour." 

" That was a very different thing. But suppose 
you let a man go at large who has killed his friend 
in a jealous rage, what do you do with other mur- 
derers ?" 

" In Altruria there can be no other murderers. Peo- 
ple cannot kill here for money, which prompts every 
other kind of murder in capitalistic countries, as well 
as every other kind of crime. I know, my dear, that 
this seems very strange to you, but you will accustom 
yourself to the idea, and then you will see the reason- 
ableness of the Altrurian plan. On the whole, I am 
sorry you could not have seen that hapless man, and 
heard him. He had a face like death — " 

" And a voice like death, too !" I put in. 

" You noticed that ? He wanted to talk about his 
crime with me. He wants to talk about it with any 
one who will listen to him. He is consumed with an 
undying pity for the man he slew. That is the first 
thing, the only thing, in his mind. If he could, I 
believe he would give his life for the life he took at 
any moment. But you cannot recreate one life by de- 
stroying another. There is no human means of ascer- 
taining justice, but we can always do mercy with divine 
omniscience." As he spoke the sun pierced the edge 
of the eastern horizon, and lit up the marble walls and 
roofs of the Regionic capital which we wore approach- 
ing. 

At the meeting we had there in the afternoon, Aris- 
tides reported our having been warned against our 

IGT 



THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

danger in the iiiglit by that murderer, and puLlic 
record of the fact was made. The Altrurians con- 
sider any sort of punishment which is not expiation 
a far greater sin than the wrong it visits, and alto- 
gether barren and useless. After the record in this case 
had been made, the conference naturally turned upon 
what Aristides had seen of the treatment of crimi- 
nals in America, and when he told of our prisons, 
where people merely arrested and not yet openly ac- 
cused are kept, I did not know which way to look, for 
you know I am still an American at heart, Dolly. Did 
you ever see the inside of one of our police-stations 
at night ? Or smell it ? I did, once, when I went 
to give bail for a wretched girl who had been my 
servant, and had gone wrong, but had been arrested for 
theft, and I assure you that the sight and the smell 
woke me in the night for a month afterwards, and I 
have never quite ceased to dream about it. 

The Altrurians listened in silence, and I hoped they 
could not realize the facts, though the story was every 
word true; but what seemed to make them the most 
indignant was the treatment of the families of the 
prisoners in w^hat we call our penitentiaries and re- 
formatories. At first they did not conceive of it, appar- 
ently, because it was so stupidly barbarous; they have 
no patience with stupidity; and when Aristides had 
carefully explained, it seemed as if they could not be- 
lieve it. They thought it right that the convicts should 
be made to work, but they could not understand that 
the state really took away their wages, and left their 
families to suffer for want of the support which it had 
deprived them of. They said this was punishing the 
mothers and sisters, the wives and children of the 
prisoners, and was like putting out the eyes of an 
offender's innocent relatives as they had read was done 

168 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

in Oriental countries. They asked if there was never 
any sort of protest against such an atrocious perver- 
sion of justice, and when the question was put to me 
I was obliged to own that I had never heard the sys- 
tem even criticised. Perhaps it has been, but I spoke 
only from my own knowledge. 



VII 



Well, to get away from these dismal experiences, 
and come back to our travels, with their perpetual 
noveltj, and the constantly varying beauty of the coun- 
try! 

The human interest of the landscape, that is always 
the great interest of it, and I wish I could make you 
feel it as I have felt it in this wonderful journey 
of ours. It is like the 'New England landscape at 
times, in its kind of gentle wildness, but where it has 
been taken back into the hand of man, how different 
the human interest is! Instead of a rheumatic old 
farmer, in his clumsy clothes, with some of his gaunt 
girls to help him, or perhaps his ageing wife, getting 
in the hay of one of those sweet meadows, and looking 
like so many animated scarecrows at their work; or in- 
stead of some young farmer, on the seat of his clatter- 
ing mower, or mounted high over his tedder, but as 
much alone as if there were no one else in the neigh- 
borhood, silent and dull, or fierce or sullen, as the case 
might be, the work is always going on with companies 
of mowers or reapers, or planters, that chatter like 
birds or sing like them. 

It is no use my exf)laining again and again that 
in a country like this, where everybody works, nobody 
over works, and that when the few hours of obligatory 
labor are passed in the mornings, people need not do 
anything unless they choose. Their working - dresses 
are very simple, but in all sorts of gay colors, like 

170 



THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

those you saw in the Greek play at Harvard, with 
straw hats for the men, and fillets of ribbon for the 
girls, and sandals for both. I speak of girls, for 
most of the married women are at home gardening, 
or about the household work, but men of every age 
work in the fields. The earth is dear to them be- 
cause they get their life from it by labor that is not 
slavery; they come to love it every acre, every foot, 
because they have known it from childhood; and 
I have seen old men, very old, pottering about the 
orchards and meadows during the liours of voluntary 
work, and trimming them up here and there, simply 
because they could not keep away from the place, or 
keep their hands off the trees and bushes. Sometimes 
in the long, tender afternoons, we see far up on some 
pasture slope, groups of girls scattered about on the 
grass, with their sewing, or listening to some one read- 
ing. Other times they are giving a little play, usually 
a comedy, for life is so happy here that tragedy would 
not be true to it, with the characters coming and going 
in a grove of small pines, for the coulisses, and using a 
level of grass for the stage. If we stop, one of the 
audience comes down to us and invites us to come up 
and see the play, which keeps on in spite of the sensa- 
tion that I can feel I make among them. 

Everywhere the news of us has gone before us, and 
there is a universal curiosity to get a look at Aristides" 
capitalistic wife, as they call me. I made him trans- 
late it, and he explained that the word was merely de- 
scriptive and not characteristic; some people distin- 
guished and called me American. There was one place 
where they were having a picnic in the woods up a hill- 
side, and they asked us to join them, so we turned our 
van into the roadside and followed the procession. It 
was headed by two old men plaving on j)ipes, and after 

171 



THEOITGII THE F.YE OF THE NEEDLE 

these came children sing'ing', and then all sorts of 
people, young and old. When we got to an open place 
in the woods, where there was a spring, and smooth 
grass, they bnilt fires, and began to get ready for the 
feast, while some of them did things to amuse the 
rest. Every one could do something; if you can im- 
agine a party of artists, it was something like that. 
I should say the Altrurians had artists' manners, free, 
friendly, and easy, with a dash of humor in every- 
thing, and a wonderful willingness to laiTgh and make 
laugh. Aristides is always explaining that the artist 
is their ideal type ; that is, some one who works gladly, 
and plays as gladly as he works ; no one here is asked to 
do work that he hates, unless he seems to hate every 
kind of work. When this happens, the authorities 
find out something for him that he had hetter like, 
by letting him starve till he works. That picnic lasted 
the whole afternoon and well into the night, and then 
the picnickers went home through the starlight, lead- 
ing the little ones, or carrying them when they were 
too little or too tired. But first they came down to our 
van with us, and sang us a serenade after we had dis- 
appeared into it, and then left us, and sent their 
voices back to us out of the dark. 

One morning at dawn, as we came into a village, we 
saw nearly the whole population mounting the marble 
steps of the temple, all the holiday dress of the Volun- 
taries, which they put on here every afternoon when the 
work is done. Last of the throng came a procession of 
children, looking something like a May-Day party, and 
midway of their line were a young man and a young 
girl, hand in hand, who parted at the door of the 
temple, and entered separately. Aristides called out, 
" Oh, it is a wedding ! You are in luck, Eveleth," and 
then and there I saw my first Altrurian wedding. 

172 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

Within, the pillars and the altar and the seats of the 
elders were garlanded with flowers, so fresh and fra- 
grant that they seemed to have blossomed from the 
marble overnight, and there was a soft murmur of Al- 
trurian voices that might very well have seemed the 
hum of bees among the blossoms. This subsided, as the 
young couple, who had paused just inside the temple 
door, came up the middle side by side, and again separ- 
ated and took their places, the youth on the extreme 
right of the elder, and the maiden on the extreme left 
of the eldresses, and stood facing the congregation, 
which was also on foot, and joined in the hymn which 
everybody sang. Then one of the eldresses rose and 
began a sort of statement which Aristides translated to 
me afterwards. She said that the young couple whom 
we saw there had for the third time asked to be- 
come man and wife, after having believed for a year 
that they loved each other, and having statedly come 
before the marriage authorities and been questioned as 
to the continuance of their affection. She said that 
probably every one present knew that they had been 
friends from childhood, and none would be surprised 
that they now wished to be united for life. They had 
been carefully instructed as to the serious nature of 
the marriage bond, and admonished as to the duties 
they were entering into, not only to each other, but 
to the community. At each successive visit to the 
authorities they had been warned, separately and 
together, against the danger of trusting to anything 
like a romantic impulse, and they had faithfully en- 
deavored to act upon this advice, as they testified. In 
order to prove the reality of their affection, they had 
been parted every third month, and had lived during 
that time in different Regions where it was meant they 
should meet many other young people, so that if they 

"lY3 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

felt any swerving of tlic heart they might not persist 
in an intention which could only bring them final 
unhappiness. It seems this is the rule in the case of 
young lovers, and people usually marry very young 
here, but if they wish to marry later in life the rule is 
not enforced so stringently, or not at all. The bride 
and gi'oom we saw had both stood these trials, and at 
each return they had been more and more sure that 
they loved each otlier, and loved no one else. N^ow 
they were here to unite their hands, and to declare the 
union of their hearts before the people. 

Then the eldress sat do"\vn and an elder arose, who 
bade the young people come forward to the centre of 
the line, where the elders and eldresses were sitting. 
He took his place behind them, and once more and for 
the last time he conjured them not to persist if they 
felt any doubt of themselves. He warned them that 
if they entered into the married state, and afterwards 
repented to the point of seeking divorce, the divorce 
would indeed be granted them, but on terms, as they 
must realize, of lasting grief to themselves through the 
offence they would commit against the commonwealth. 
They answered that they were sure of themselves, and 
ready to exchange their troth for life and death. Then 
they joined hands, and declared that they took each 
other for husband and wife. The congregation broke 
into another hymn and slowly dispersed, leaving the 
bride and groom with their families, who came up to 
them and embraced them, pressing their cheeks against 
the cheeks of the young pair. 

This ended the solemnity, and then the festivity be- 
gan, as it ended, with a wedding feast, where people 
sang and danced and made speeches and drank toasts, 
and the fun was kept up till the hours of the Obliga- 
tories approached ; and then, what do you think ? The 

174 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

married pair put off their wedding garments with thef 

rest and went to work in the fields! Later, I under-; 

t 
stood, if they wished to take a wedding journey theyi 

could freely do so ; but the first thing in their married) 
life they must honor the Altrurian ideal of work, by! 
which every one must live in order that every other' 
may live without overwork. I believe that the mar- 
riage ceremonial is something like that of the Quakers, 
but I never saw a Quaker wedding, and I could only 
compare this with the crazy romps with which our 
house-weddings often end, with throwing of rice and 
old shoes, and tying ribbons to the bridal carriage and 
baggage, and following the pair to the train with out- 
breaks of tiresome hilarity, which make them conspicu- 
ous before their fellow-travellers; or with some of 
our ghastly church weddings, in which the religious 
ceremonial is lost in the social effect, and ends with that 
everlasting thumping march from " Lohengrin," and 
the outsiders storming about the bridal pair and the 
guests with the rude curiosity that the fattest police- 
men at the canopied and carpeted entrance cannot 
check. 



VIII 

W,E have since been at other weddings and at chris- 
tenings and at funerals. The ceremonies are always 
held in the temples, and are always in the same seri- 
ous spirit. As the Altrurians are steadfast believers 
in immortality, there is a kind of solemn elevation in 
the funeral ceremonies which I cannot give you a real 
notion of. It is helped, I think, by the custom of not 
performing the ceremony over the dead ; a brief rite is 
reserved for the cemetery, where it is wished that the 
kindred shall not be present, lest they think ahrays of 
the material body and not of the spiritual body which 
shall be raised in incorruption. Religious service is held 
in the temples every day at the end of the Obligatories, 
and whenever we are near a village or in any of the cap- 
itals we always go. It is very simple. After a hymn, to 
which the people sometimes march round the interior 
of the temple, each lays on the altar an offering from 
the fields or woods wliere they have been working, if 
it is nothing but a head of grain or a wild flower or a 
leaf. Then any one is at liberty to speak, but any one 
else may go out without offence. There is no ritual; 
sometimes they read a chapter from the 'New Testa- 
ment, preferably a part of the story of Christ or a 
passage from His discourses. The idea of coming to 
the temple at the end of the day's labor is to consecrate 
that day's work, and they do not call an>'thing work that 
is not work with the hands. When I explained, or tried 
to explain, that among us a great many people worked 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

with their brains, to amuse others or to get handwork out 
of them, they were unable to follow me. I asked if they 
did not consider composing music or poetry or plays, or 
painting pictures work, and they said, ISTo, that was 
pleasure, and must be indulged only during the Volun- 
taries; it was never to be honored like work with the 
hands, for it would not equalize the burden of that, but 
might put an undue share of it on others. They said 
that lives devoted to such pursuits must be very un- 
wholesome, and they brought me to book about the 
lives of most artists, literary men, and financiers in the 
capitalistic world to prove what they said. They held 
that people must work with their hands willingly, in the 
artistic spirit, but they could only do that when they 
knew that others differently gifted were working in like 
manner with their hands. 

I couldn't begin to tell you all our queer experiences. 
As I have kept saying, I am a great curiosity every- 
where, and I could flatter myself that people were more 
eager to see me than to hear Aristides. Sometimes I 
couldn't help thinking that they expected to find me an 
awful warning, a dreadful example of whatever a woman 
ought n6t to be, and a woman from capitalistic condi- 
tions must be logically. But sometimes they were very 
intelligent, even the simplest villagers, as we should call 
them, though there is such an equality of education and 
opportunity here that no simplicity of life has the 
effect of dulling people as it has with us. One thing 
was quite American : they always wanted to know how 
I liked Altruria, and when I told them, as I sincerely 
could, that I adored it, they were quite affecting in their 
pleasure. They generally asked if I would like to go 
back to America, and when I said "No, they were de- 
lighted beyond anything. They said I must become a 
citizen and vote and take part in the government, for 

177 



^ 



THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

jthat was every woman's duty as well as right; it was 
[wrong to leave the whole responsibility to the men. 
They asked if American women took no interest in the 
government, and when I told them there was a very 
small nnmber who wished to influence politics socially, 
as the Englishwomen did, but without voting or taking 
any responsibility, they were shocked. In one of the 
Regionic capitals they wanted me to sjjeak after Aris- 
tides, but I had nothing prepared ; at the next I did get 
off a little speech in English, which he translated after 
me. Later he put it into Altrurian, and I memorized 
it, and made myself immensely popular by parroting it. 

The pronunciation of Altrurian is not difficult, for 
it is spelled phonetically, and the sounds are very sim- 
ple. Where they were once difficult they have been 
simplified, for here the simplification of life extends 
to everything ; and the grammar has been reduced in its 
structure till it is as elemental as English grammar 
or I^orwegian. The language is Greek in origin, but 
the intricate inflections and the declensions have been 
thrown away, and it has kept only the simplest forms. 
You must get Mr. Twelvemough to explain this to you, 
Dolly, for it would take me too long, and I have so 
much else to tell you. A good many of the women have 
taken up English, but they learn it as a dead language, 
and they give it a comical effect by trying to pronounce 
it as it is spelled. 

I suppose you are anxious, if these letters which are 
piling up and piling up should ever reach you, or even 
start to do so, to know something about the Altru- 
rian cities, and what they are like. Well, in the first 
place, you must cast all images of American cities 
out of your mind, or any European cities, except, 
perhaps, the prettiest and stateliest parts of Paris, 
where there is a regular sky-line, and the public build- 

178 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

ing's and monuments are approached through shaded , 
avenues. There are no private houses here, in our/ 
sense — that is, houses which people have built with 
their own money on their own land, and made as 
ugly outside and as molestive to their neighbors and 
the passers-by as they chose. As the buildings belong 
to the whole people, the first requirement is that they 
shall be beautiful inside and out. There are a few 
grand edifices looking like Greek temples, which are 
used for the government offices, and these are, of 
course, the most dignified, but the dwellings are quite 
as attractive and comfortable. They are built round 
courts, with gardens and flowers in the courts, and 
wide grassy spaces round them. They are rather tall, 
but never so tall as our great hotels or apartment- 
houses, and the floors are brought to one level by eleva- 
tors, which are used only in the capitals ; and, generally 
speaking, I should say the villages were pleasanter than 
the cities. In fact, the village is the Altrurian ideal, 
and there is an effort everywhere to reduce the size 
of the towns and increase the number of the villages. 
The outlying farms have been gathered into these, 
and now there is not one of those lonely places in the 
country, like those where our farmers toil alone out- 
doors and their wives alone indoors, and both go mad 
so often in the solitude. The villages are almost in 
sight of each other, and the people go to their fields 
in company, w^hile the women carry on their house- 
keeping co-operatively, with a large kitchen which they 
use in common; they have their meals apart or to- 
gether, as they like. If any one is sick or disabled the 
neighbors come in and help do her work, as they used 
with us in the early times, and as they still do in coun- 
try places. Village life here is preferred, just as coun- 
try life is in England, and one thing that will amuse 

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you, with your American ideas, and yonr pride in the 
overgrowth of our cities: the Altrurian papers solemn- 
ly announce from time to time that the population of 
such or such a capital has been reduced so many 
hundreds or thousands since the last census. That 
means that the villages in the neighborhood have been 
increased in number and population. 

Meanwhile, I must say the capitals are delightful: 
clean, airy, quiet, with the most beautiful architecture, 
mostly classic and mostly marble, with rivers running 
through them and round them, and every real con- 
venience, but not a clutter of artificial conveniences, as 
with us. In the streets there are noiseless trolleys 
(where they have not been replaced by public auto- 
mobiles) which the long distances of the ample ground- 
plan make rather necessary, and the rivers are shot over 
with swift motor-boats; for the short distances you al- 
ways expect to walk, or if you don't expect it, you 
walk anyway. The car-lines and boat-lines are public, 
and they are free, for the Altrurians think that the 
community owes transportation to every one who lives 
beyond easy reach of the points which their work calls 
them to. 

Of course the great government stores are in the 
capitals, and practically there are no stores in the vil- 
lages, except for what you might call emergency sup- 
plies. But you must not imagine, Dolly, that shopping, 
here, is like shopping at home — or in America, as I 
am learning to say, for Altruria is home now. That 
is, you don't fill your purse with bank-notes, or have 
things charged. You get everything you want, within 
reason, and certainly everything you need, for nothing. 
You have only to provide yourself with a card, some- 
thing like that you have to show at the Army and ISTavy 
Stores in London, when you first go to buy there, which 

" ISO 



THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

certifies that jou belong to this or that work ino'-phalanXj 
and that you have not failed in the Obligatories for 
such and such a length of time. If you are not en- 
titled to this card, you had better not go shopping, for 
there is no possible equivalent for it which will enable 
you to carry any tiling away or have it sent to your 
house. At first I could not help feeling rather indignant 
when I was asked to show my work-card in the stores ; I 
had usually forgotten to bring it, or sometimes I had 
brought my husband's card, which would not do at all, 
unless I could say that I had been ill or disabled, for 
a woman is expected to work quite the same as a man. 
Of course her housework counts, and as we are on a 
sort of public mission, they count our hours of travel 
as working-hours, especially as Aristides has made it 
a point of good citizenship for us to stop every now and 
then and join in the Obligatories when the villagers 
were getting in the farm crops or quarrying stone or 
putting up a house. I am never much use in quarrying 
or building, but I come in strong in the hay-fields or 
the apple orchards or the orange groves. 

The shopping here is not so enslaving as it is with 
us — I mean, with you — because the fashions do not 
change, and you get things only when you need them, 
not when you want them, or when other people think 
you do. The costume was fixed long ago, when the 
Altruriau era began, by a commission of artists, and 
it would be considered very bad form as well as bad 
morals to try changing it in the least. People are al- 
lowed to choose their own colors, but if one goes very 
wrong, or so far wrong as to offend the public taste, y 
she is gently admonished by the local art commission ; 
if she insists, they let her have her own way, but she 
seldom wants it when she knows that people think her 
a fright. Of course tlie costume is modified somewhat 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

for the age and shape of the wearer, but this is not 
so often as you might think. There are no very lean 
or very stout people, though there are old and young, 
just as there are with us. But the Altrurians keep 
young very much longer than capitalistic peoples do, 
and the life of work keeps down their weight. You 
know I used to incline a little to over-plumpness, I 
;really believe because I overate at times simply to keep 
ifrom thinking of the poor who had to undereat, but 
that is quite past now; I have lost at least twenty-five 
pounds from working out-doors and travelling so much 
and living very, very simply. 



IX 



I HAVE to jot things do\vii as they come into my 
mind, and I am afraid I forget some of the most im- 
portant. Everybody is so novel on this famous tour 
of ours that I am continually interested, but one has 
one's preferences even in Altruria, and I believe I 
like best the wives of the artists and literary men! 
whom one finds working in the galleries and libraries 
of the capitals everywhere. They are not more intelli- 
gent than other women, perhaps, but they are more 
sympathetic; and one sees so little of those people in 
ISTew York, for all they abound there. 

The galleries are not only for the exhibition of 
pictures, but each has numbers of ateliers, where the 
artists work and teach. The libraries are the most 
wonderfully imagined things. Tou do not have to 
come and study in them, but if you are working up any 
particular subject, the books relating to it are sent to 
your dwelling every morning and brought away every 
noon, so that during the obligatory hours you have 
them completely at your disposition, and during the 
Volimtaries you can consult them with the rest of the 
public in the library; it is not thought best that study 
should be carried on throughout the day, and the re- 
sults seem to justify this theory. If you want to read 
a book merely for pleasure, you are allowed to take it 
out and live with it as long as you like ; the copy you 
have is immediately replaced with another, so that you 

183 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

do not feel hurried aud are not obliged to ramp tliroiigli 
it in a week or a fortnight. 

The Altrurian books arc still rather sealed books to 
me, but they are delightful to the eye, all in large print 
on wide margins, with flexible bindings, and such light 
paper that you can hold them in one hand indefinitely 
without tiring. I must send you some with this, if I 
ever get my bundle of letters off to you. You will see 
by the dates that I am writing you one every day ; I had 
thought of keeping a journal for you, but then I should 
have had left out a good many things that happened 
during our first days, when the impressions were so 
vivid, and I should have got to addressing my rec- 
ords to myself, and I think I had better keep to the 
form of letters. If they reach you, and you read them 
at random, why that is very much the way I write 
them. 

I despair of giving you any real notion of the 
capitals, but if you remember the White City at the 
Columbian Fair at Chicago in 1893, you can have 
some idea of the general effect of one; only there is 
nothing heterogeneous in their beauty. There is one 
classic rule in the architecture, but each of the different 
architects may characterize an edifice from himself, just 
as different authors writing the same language charac- 
terize it by the diction natural to him. There are sug- 
gestions of the capitals in some of our cities, and if you 
remember Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, you can 
imagine something like the union of street and garden 
which every street of them is. The trolleys run under 
the overarching trees between the lawns, flanked by 
gravelled footpaths between flower-beds, and you take 
the cars or not as you like. As there is no hurry, they 
go about as fast as English trams, and the danger from 
them is practically reduced to nothing by the crossings 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

dipping under them at the street corners. The centre 
of the capital is approached by colonnades, which at 
night bear groups of great bulbous lamps, and by day 
flutter with the Altrurian and Regionic flags. Around 
this centre are the stores and restaurants and theatres, 
and galleries and libraries, with arcades over the side- 
walks, like those in Bologna ; sometimes the arcades are 
in two stories, as they are in Chester. People are con- 
stantly coming and going in an easy way during the 
afternoon, though in the morning the streets are rather 
deserted. 

But what is the use ? I could go on describing and 
describing, and never get in half the differences from 
American cities, with their hideous uproar, and their 
mud in the wet, and their clouds of swirling dust in 
the wind. But there is one feature which I must men- 
tion, because you can fancy it from the fond dream of 
a great national highway which some of our architects 
projected while they were still in the fervor of excite- 
ment from the beauty of the Peristyle, and other feat- 
ures of the White City. They really have such a high- 
way here, crossing the whole Altrurian continent, and 
uniting the circle of the Regionic capitals. As we 
travelled for a long time by the country roads on the 
beds of the old railways, I had no idea of this mag- 
nificent avenue, till one day my husband suddenly 
ran our van into the one leading up to the first 
capital we were to visit. Then I found myself be- 
tween miles and miles of stately white pillars, rising 
and sinking as the road found its natural levels, and 
growing in the perspective before us and dwindling 
behind us. I could not keep out of my mind a colon- 
nade of palm-trees, only the fronds were lacking, and 
there were never palms so beautiful. Each pillar was 
inscribed with the name of some Altrurian who had 

185 



THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

done something for his country, written some beautiful 
poem or story, or history, made some scientific dis- 
covery, composed an opera, invented a universal con- 
venience, performed a wonderful cure, or been a de- 
lightful singer, or orator, or gardener, or farmer. 'Not 
one soldier, general or admiral, among them ! That 
seemed very strange to me, and I asked Aristides how 
it was. Like everything else in Altruria, it was very 
simple; there had been no war for so long that there 
were no famous soldiers to commemorate. But he 
stopped our van when he came to the first of the many 
arches which spanned the highway, and read out to me 
in English the Altrurian record that it was erected in 
honor of the first President of the Altrurian Common- 
wealth, who managed the negotiations when the capi- 
talistic oligarchies to the north and south were peace- 
fully annexed, and the descendants of the three na- 
tions joined in the commemoration of an event that 
abolished war forever on the Altrurian continent. 

Here I can imagine Mr. Makely asking who footed 
the bills for this beauty and magnificence, and whether 
these works were constructed at the cost of the nation, 
or the different Regions, or the abutters on the different 
highways. But the fact is, you poor, caj)italistic dears, 
they cost nobody a dollar, for there is not a dollar in 
Altruria. You must worry into the idea somehow that 
in Altruria you cannot buy anything except by work- 
ing, and that work is the current coin of the republic : 
you pay for everything by drops of sweat, and off your 
own brow, not somebody else's brow. The people built 
these monuments and colonnades, and aqueducts and 
highways and byways, and sweet villages and palatial 
cities with their own hands, after the designs of artists, 
who also took part in the labor. But it Avas a labor that 
they delighted in so much that they chose to perform 

186 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

it during tlie Voluntaries, when thev might have been 
resting, and not during the Obligatories, when thej were 
required to work. So it was all joj and all glory. They 
say there never was such hapniness in any country 
since the world began. While the work went on it was 
like a perpetual Fourth of July or an everlasting picnic. 

But I know you hate this sort of economical stuff, 
Dolly, and I will make haste to get down to business, 
as Mr. Makely would say, for I am really coming to 
something that you will think worth while. One morn- 
ing, when we had made half the circle of the capitals, 
and were on the homestretch to the one where we had 
left our dear mother — for Aristides claims her, too — 
and I was letting that dull nether anxiety for her come 
to the top, though we had had the fullest telephonic 
talks with her every day, and knew she was well and 
happy, we came round the shoulder of a wooded cliff and 
found ourselves on an open stretch of the northern coast. 
At first I could only exclaim at the beauty of the sea, 
lying blue and still beyond a long beach closed by 
another headland, and I did not realize that a large 
yacht which I saw close to land had gone ashore. The 
beach was crowded with Altrurians, who seemed to 
have come to the rescue, for they were putting off to 
the yacht in boats and returning with passengers, and 
jumping out, and pulling their boats with them up on 
to the sand. 

I was quite bewildered, and I don't know what to say 
I was the next thing, when I saw that the stranded yacht 
was flying the American flag from her peak. I sup- 
posed she must be one of our cruisers, she was so large, 
and the first thing that flashed into my mind was a 
kind of amused wonder what those poor Altrurians 
would do with a ship-of-war and her marines and crew. 
I couldn't ask any coherent questions, and luckily Aris- 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

tides was answering mj incoherent ones in the best 
possible way by wheeling our van down on the beach 
and making for the point nearest the yacht. He had 
time to say he did not believe she was a government 
vessel, and, in fact, I remembered that once I had seen 
a boat in the ISTortli River getting np steam to go to 
Europe which was much larger, and had her decks 
covered with sailors that I took for bluejackets; but 
she was only the private yacht of some people I knew. 
These stupid things kept going and coming in my 
mind while my husband was talking with some of the 
Altrurian girls who were there helping with the men. 
They said that the yacht had gone ashore the night be- 
fore last in one of the sudden fogs that come up on that 
coast, and that some people whom the sailors seemed to 
obey were camping on the edge of the upland above the 
beach, under a large tent they had brought from the 
yacht. They had refused to go to the guest-house in the 
nearest village, and as nearly as the girls could make 
out they expected the yacht to get afloat from tide to 
tide, and then intended to re-embark on her. In the 
mean time they had provisioned themselves from the 
ship, and were living in a strange way of their own. 
Some of them seemed to serve the others, but these 
appeared to be used with a very ungrateful indiffer- 
ence, as if they were of a different race. There was one 
who wore a white apron and white cap who directed 
the cooking for the rest, and had several assistants; 
and from time to time very disagreeable odors came 
from the camp, like burning flesh. The Altrurians 
had carried them fruits and vegetables, but the men- 
assistants had refused them contemptuously and seemed 
suspicious of the variety of mushrooms they offered 
them. They called out, " To-stoo !" and I understood 
that the strangers "were afraid they were bringing toad- 

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TIIEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

stools. One of the Altrurian girls liad been studyiug 
English in the nearest capital, and she had tried to 
talk with these people, pronouncing it in the Altrnrian 
way, but they could make nothing of one another ; then 
she wrote down what she wanted to say, but as she \ ~y 
spelled it phonetically they were not able to read her 
English. She asked us if I was the American Altru- 
rian she had heard of, and Avlien 1 said yes she lost no 
time in showing us to the camp of the castaways. 

As soon as we saw their tents we went forward till 
we were met at the largest by a sort of marine foot- 
man, who bowed slightly and said to me, "What name 
shall I say, ma'am ?" and I answered distinctly, so 
that he might get the name right, " Mr. and Mrs. 
Homos." Then he held back the flap of the marquee, 
which seemed to serve these people as a drawing-room, 
and called out, standing very rigidly upright, to let us 
pass, in the way that I remembered so well, " Mr. and 
Mrs. 'Omos !" and a severe-looking, rather elderly lady 
rose to meet us with an air that was both anxious and 
forbidding, and before she said anything else she burst 
out, " You don't mean to say you speak English ?" 

I said that I spoke English, and had not spoken any- 
thing else but rather poor French until six months be- 
fore, and then she demanded, " Have you been cast 
away on this outlandish place, too?" 

I laughed and said I lived here, and I introduced 
my husband as well as I could without knowing her 
name. He explained with his pretty Altrurian accent, 
which you used to like so much, that we had ventured to 
come in the hope of being of use to them, and added 
some regrets for their misfortune so sweetly that I 
wondered she could help responding in kind. But she 
merely said, " Oh !" and then she seemed to recollect 
herself, and frowning to a very gentle-looking old man 

189 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

to come forward, she ignored my husband in presenting 
me. " Mr. Thrall, Mrs. " 

She hesitated for my name, and I supplied it, 
" Homos," and as the old man had put out his hand 
in a kindly Avay I took it. 

" And this is my husband, Aristidcs Homos, an Al- 
trurian," I said, and then, as the lady had not asked 
us to sit down, or shown the least sign of liking our 
being there, the natural woman flamed up in me as 
she hadn't in all the time I have been away from ISTew 
York. " I am glad you are so comfortable here, Mr. 
Thrall. You won't need us, I see. The people about 
will do anything in their power for you. Come, my 
dear," and I was sweeping out of that tent in a manner 
calculated to give the eminent millionaire's wife a no- 
tion of Altrurian hauteur which I must own would have 
been altogether mistaken. 

I knew who they were perfectly. Even if I had not 
once met them I should have known that they were 
the ultra-rich Thralls, from the multitudinous pictures 
of them that I had seen in the papers at home, not long 
after they came on to ISTew York. 

He was beginning, " Oh no, oh no," but I cut in. 
" My husband and I are on our way to the next Re- 
gionic capital, and we are somewhat hurried. You 
will be quite well looked after by the neighbors here, 
and I see that we are rather in your housekeeper's 
way." 

It was nasty, Dolly, and I won't deny it; it was 
vulgar. But what would you have done ? I could feel 
Aristides' mild eye sadly on me, and I was sorry for 
him, but I assure him I was not sorry for them, till 
that old man spoke again, so timidly : " It isn't my — 
it's my wife, Mrs. Homos. Let me introduce her. But 
haven't we met before ?" 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" Perhaps during mj first husband's lifetime. I 
.was Mrs. Bellington Strange." 

" Mrs. P. Bellington Strange ? Your husband was 
a dear friend of mine when we were both young — a 
good man, if ever there was one ; the best in the world ! 
I am so glad to see you again. Ah — my dear, you re- 
member my speaking of Mrs. Strange V 

He took my hand again and held it in his soft old 
hands, as if hesitating whether to transfer it to her, 
and my heart melted towards him. You may think it 
very odd, Dolly, but it was what he said of my dear, 
dead husband that softened me. It made him seem 
very fatherly, and I felt the affection for him that I 
felt for my husband, when he seemed more like a father. 
Aristides and I often talk of it, and he has no wish 
that I should forget him. 

Mrs. Thrall made no motion to take my hand from 
him, but she said, " I think I have met Mr. Strange," 
and now I saw in the backgroimd, sitting on a camp- 
stool near a long, lank young man stretched in a ham- 
mock, a very handsome girl, who hastily ran through 
a book, and then dropped it at the third mention of my 
name. I suspected that the book was the Social 
Register, and that the girl's search for me had been 
satisfactory, for she rose and came vagTiely towards us, 
while the young man unfolded himself from the ham- 
mock, and stood hesitating, but looking as if he rather 
liked what had happened. 

Mr. Thrall bustled about for camp-stools, and said, 
" Do stop and have some breakfast with us, it's just 
coming in. May I introduce my daughter, Lady 
Moors and — and Lord Moors?" The girl took my 
hand, and the young man bowed from his place ; but if 
that poor old man had known, peace was not to be 
made so easily between two such bad-tempered women 
^3 191 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

as Mrs. Thrall and myself. We expressed some very 
stiff sentiments in regard to the weather, and the pros- 
pect of the yacht getting off with the next tide, and my 
husband joined in with that manly gentleness of his, 
but Ave did not sit down, much less offer to stay to 
breakfast. We had got to the door of the tent, the 
family following us, even to the noble son-in-law, and 
as she now realized that we are actually going, Mrs. 
Thrall gasped out, " But you are not leaving us ? What 
shall we do with all these natives V 

This was again too much, and I flamed out at her. 
" Natives ! They are cultivated and refined people, for 
they are Altrurians, and I assure you you will be in 
much better hands than mine with them, for I am only 
Altrurian by marriage!" 

She was one of those leathery egotists that nothing 
will make a dint in, and she came back Avith, " But 
we don't speak the language, and they don't speak Eng- 
lish, and how are we to manage if the yacht doesn't get 
afloat ?" 

" Oh, no doubt you will be looked after from the 
capital we have just left. But I Avill venture to make 
a little suggestion with regard to the natives in the 
mean time. They are not proud, but they are very sen- 
sitive, and if you fail in any point of consideration, 
they will understand that you do not want their hos- 
pitality." 

" I imagine our own people will be able to look after 
us," she answered quite as nastily. " We do not pro- 
pose to be dependent on them. We can pay our way 
here as we do elsewhere." 

" The experiment will be worth trjdng," I said. 
" Come, Aristides !" and I took the poor fellow away 
with me to our van. Mr. Thrall made some hope- 
less little movements towards us, but I would not stop 

192 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

or even, look back. When we got into the van, I made 
Aristides j^ut on the full power, and fell back into my 
seat and cried a while, and then I scolded him because 
he would not scold me, and went on in a really scan- 
dalous way. It must have been a revelation to him, 
but he only smoothed me on the shoulder and said, 
" Poor Eveleth, poor Eveleth," till I thought I should 
scream ; but it ended in my falling on his neck, and 
saying I knew I was horrid, and what did he want me 
to do? 

After I calmed down into something like rationality, 
he said he thought we had perhaps done the best thing 
we could for those people in leaving them to them- 
selves, for they could come to no possible harm among 
the neighbors. He did not believe from what he had 
seen of the yacht from the shore, and from what the 
Altrurians had told him, that there was one chance 
in a thousand of her ever getting afloat. But those 
people would have to convince themselves of the fact, 
and of several other facts in their situation. I asked him 
what he meant, and he said he could tell me, but that 
as yet it was a public affair, and he would rather not 
anticipate the private interest I would feel in it. I did 
not insist; in fact, I wanted to get that odious woman 
out of my mind as soon as I could, for the thought of 
her threatened to poison the pleasure of the rest of our 
tour. 

I believe my husband hurried it a little, though he 
did not shorten it, and we got back to the Maritime 
Region almost a week sooner than we had first intend- 
ed. I found my dear mother well, and still serenely 
happy in her Altrurian surroundings. She had be- 
gun to learn the language, and she had a larger ac- 
quaintance in the capital, I believe, than any other one 
person. She said everybody had called on her, and 

193 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

they were the kindest people she had ever dreamed of. 
She had exchanged cooking-lessons with one lady who, 
they told her, was a distinguished scientist, and she had 
taught another, who was a great painter, a peculiar 
emhroidery stitch which she had learned from my 
grandmother, and which everybody admired. These 
two ladies had given her most of her grammatical in- 
struction in Altrurian, but there was a briglit little 
girl who had enlarged her vocabulary more than either, 
in helping her about her housework, the mother having 
lent her for the purpose. My mother said she was not 
ashamed to make blunders before a child, and the little 
witch had taken the greatest delight in telling her the 
names of things in the house and the streets and the 
fields outside the town, where they went long walks 
together. 



WelLj mj dear Dorothea, I had been hoping to go 
more into detail about raj mother and about our life 
in the Maritime Capital, which is to be our home for 
a year, but I had hardly got down the last words 
when Aristides came in with a despatch from the 
Seventh Kegionic, summoning us there on important 
public business: I haven't got over the feeling yet of 
being especially distinguished and flattered at sharing 
in public business; but the Altrurian women are so 
used to it that they do not think anything of it. The 
despatch was signed by an old friend of my husband's, 
Cyril Chrysostom, who had once been Emissary in 
England, and to whom my husband wrote his letters 
when he was in America. I hated to leave my mother 
so soon, but it could not be helped, and we took the 
first electric express for the Seventh Regionic, where 
we arrived in about an hour and forty minutes, mak- 
ing the three hundred miles in that time easily. I 
couldn't help regretting our comfortable van, but there 
was evidently haste in the summons, and I confess that 
I was curious to know what the matter was, though 
I had made a shrewd guess the first instant, and it 
turned out that I was not mistaken. 

The long and the short of it was that there was 
trouble with the people who had come ashore in that 
yacht, and were destined never to go to sea in her. 
She was hopelessly bedded in the sand, and the waves 
that were breaking over her were burying her deeper 

195 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE JSEEDLE 

and deeper. The owners were living in tlicir tent as we 
had left them, and her crew were camped in smaller 
tents and any shelter thej could get, along the beach. 
They had brought her stores away, but many of the 
provisions had been damaged, and it had become a 
pressing question what should be done about the peo- 
ple. We had been asked to consult with Cyril and his 
wife, and the other Regionic chiefs and their wives, 
and we threshed the question out nearly the whole night. 

I am afraid it will appear rather comical in some 
aspects to you and Mr. Makely, but I can assure you 
that it was a very serious matter with the Altrurian 
authorities. If there had been any hope of a vessel 
from the capitalistic world touching at Altruria with- 
in a definite time, they could have managed, for they 
would have gladly kept the yacht's people and owners 
till they could embark them for Australia or 'New 
Zealand, and would have made as little of the trouble 
they were giving as they could. But imtil the trader 
that brought us should return with the crew, as the 
captain had promised, there was no ship expected, and 
any other wreck in the mean time would only add to 
their difficulty. You may be surprised, though I was 
not, that the difficulty was mostly with the yacht-owners, 
and above all with Mrs. Thrall, who had baffled every 
effort of the authorities to reduce what they considered 
the disorder of their life. 

With the crew it was a different matter. As soon 
as they had got drunk on the wines and spirts they had 
brought from the wi'eck, and then had got sober because 
they had drunk all the liquors up, they began to be more 
manageable; when their provisions ran short, and they 
were made to understand that they would not be allowed 
to plunder the fields and woods, or loot the villages for 
something to eat, they became almost exemplarily do- 

19G 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

cile. At first they were disposed to show figlit, and 
the principles of the Altrnrians did not allow them to 
use violence in bringing them to subjection ; but the men 
had counted without their hosts in supposing that they 
could therefore do as they pleased, unless they pleased 
to do right. After they had made their first foray 
they were warned by Cyril, who came from the capital 
to speak English with them, that another raid would 
not be suffered. They therefore attempted it by night, 
but the Altrurians were prepared for them with the 
flexible steel nets which are their only means of defence, 
and half a dozen sailors were taken in one. When they 
attempted to break out, and their shipmates attempted 1 
to break in to free them, a light current of electricity | 
was sent through the wires and the thing was done. / 
Those who were rescued — the Altrurians will not say 
captured — had hoes j)ut into their hands the next morn- 
ing, and were led into the fields and set to work, after 
a generous breakfast of coffee, bread, and mushrooms. 
The chickens they had killed in their midnight expe- 
dition were buried, and those which they had not killed 
lost no time in beginning to lay eggs for the sustenance 
of the reformed castaways. As an extra precaution 
with the " rescued," when they were put to work, each 
of them with a kind of shirt of mail, worn over his coat, 
which could easily be electrized by a metallic filament 
connecting with the communal dynamo, and under these 
conditions they each did a full day's work during the 
Obligatories. 

As the short commons grew shorter and shorter, both 
meat and drink, at Camp Famine, and the campers 
found it was useless to attempt thieving from the Al- 
trurians, they had tried begging from the owners in 
their large tent, but they were told that the provisions 
were giving out there, too, and there was nothing for 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

them. When they insisted the servants of the owners 
had threatened them with revolvers, and the sailors, 
who had nothing but their knives, preferred to at- 
tempt living on the country. Within a week the 
whole crew had been put to work in the woods and 
fields and quarries, or wherever they could make them- 
selves useful. They were, on the whole, so well fed 
and sheltered that they were perfectly satisfied, and 
went down with the Altrurians on the beach during 
the Voluntaries and helped secure the yacht's boats and 
pieces of wreckage that came ashore. Until they be- 
came accustomed or resigned to the Altrurian diet, they 
were allowed to catch shell - fish and the crabs that 
swarmed along the sand and cook them, but on condi- 
tion that they built their fires on the beach, and cooked 
only during an offshore wind, so that the fumes of the 
roasting should not offend the villagers. 

Cyril acknowledged, therefore, that the question of 
the crew was for the present practically settled, but Mr. 
and Mrs. Thrall, and their daughter and son-in-law, 
with their servants, still presented a formidable prob- 
lem. As yet, their provisions had not run out, and they 
were living in their marquee as we had seen them 
three weeks earlier, just after their yacht went ashore. 
It could not be said that they were molestive in the 
same sense as the sailors, but they were even more 
demoralizing in the spectacle they offered the neigh- 
borhood of people dependent on hired service, and 
in their endeavors to supply themselves in perish- 
able provisions, like milk and eggs, by means of 
money. Cyril had held several interviews with them, 
in which he had at first delicately intimated, and then 
explicitly declared, that the situation could not be pro- 
longed. The two men had been able to get the Altrurian 
point of view in some measure, and so had Lady Moors, 

198 



THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

but Mrs. Thrall had remained stiffly obtuse and ob- 
stinate, and it was in despair of bringing her to terms 
without resorting to rescue that he had summoned us to 
help him. 

It was not a pleasant job, but of course we could not 
refuse, and we agreed that as soon as we had caught a 
nap, and had a bite of breakfast we would go over to 
their camp with Cyril and his wife, and see what we 
could do with the obnoxious woman. I confess that I 
had some little consolation in the hope that I should 
see her properly humbled. 



XI 



Mr. Thrall and Lord i\roors must have seen ns 
coming, for they met ns at the door of the tent with- 
out the intervention of the footman, and gave us quite 
as much welcome as we could expect in our mis- 
sion, so disagreeable all round. Mr. Thrall was as 
fatherly with me as before, and Lord Moors was as 
polite to Cyril and Mrs. Chrysostom as could have 
been wished. In fact he and Cyril were a sort of ac- 
quaintances from the time of Cyril's visit to England 
where he met the late Earl Moors, the father of the 
present peer, in some of his visits to Toynbee Hall, and 
the Whitechapel Settlements. The earl was very much 
interested in the slums, perhaps because he was rather 
poor himself, if not quite slummy. The son was then 
at the university, and Avhen he came out and into his 
title he so far shared his father's tastes that he came to 
America ; it was not slumming, exactly, biit a nobleman 
no doubt feels it to be something like it. After a 
little while in N'ew York he went out to Colorado, 
where so many needy noblemen bring up, and there he 
met the Thralls, and fell in love with the girl. Cyril 
had understood — or rather Mrs. Cyril, — that it was 
a love - match on both sides, but on Mrs. Thrall's 
side it was business. He did not even speak of settle- 
ments — the English are so romantic wlien they are 
romantic ! — but Mr. Thrall saw to all that, and tlio 
young people were married after a very short court- 
ship. They spent their honeymoon partly in Colorado 

200 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

Springs and partly in San Francisco, where the 
Thralls' yacht was lying, and then they set out on a 
voyage round the world, making stops at the interesting 
places, and bringing up on the beach of the Seventh 
Region of Altruria, en route for the eastern coast of 
South America. From that time on, Cyril said, we 
knew their history. 

After Mr. Thrall had shaken hands tenderly with 
me, and cordially with Aristides, he said, " Won't you 
all come inside and have breakfast with us ? My wife 
and daughter " — 

" Thank you, Mr, Thrall," Cyril answered for us, 
" we will sit down here, if you please ; and as your 
ladies are not used to business, we will not ask you to 
disturb them." 

" I'm sure Lady Moors," the young nobleman began, 
but Cyril waved him silent. 

" We shall be glad later, but not now ! Gentlemen, 
I have asked my friends Aristides Homos and Eveleth 
Homos to accompany my wife and me this morning be- 
cause Eveleth is an American, and will understand 
your position, and he has lately been in America and 
will be able to clarify the situation from both sides. 
We wish you to believe that we are approaching 
you in the friendliest spirit, and that nothing 
could be more painful to us than to seem inhospi- 
table." 

" Then why," the old man asked, with business-like 
promptness, " do you object to our presence here ? I 
don't believe I get your idea." 

" Because the spectacle which your life offers is con- 
trary to good morals, and as faithful citizens we can- 
not countenance it." 

" But in what way is our life immoral ? I have 
always thought that I was a good citizen at home; at 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

least I can't remember having been arrested for dis- 
orderly conduct." 

He smiled at me, as if I should appreciate the joke, 
and it hurt me to keep grave, but suspecting what a bad 
time he was going to have, I thought I had better not 
join him in any levity. 

" I quite conceive you," Cyril replied. " But you 
present to our people, who are offended by it, the spec- 
tacle of dependence upon hireling service for your daily 
comfort and convenience." 

" But, my dear sir," Mr. Thrall returned, " don't 
we pay for it ? Do our servants object to rendering 
us this service ?" 

" That has nothing to do with the case ; or, rather, 
it makes it worse. The fact that your servants do not 
object shows how completely they are depraved by 
usage. We should not object if they served you from 
affection, and if you repaid them in kindness ; but the 
fact that you think you have made them a due return 
by giving them money shows how far from the right 
ideal in such a matter the whole capitalistic world is." 

Here, to my gi*eat delight, Aristides spoke up: 

" If the American practice were half as depraving 
as it ought logically to be in their conditions, their 
social system would drop to pieces. It was always 
astonishing to me that a people with their facilities for 
evil, their difficulties for good, should remain so kind 
and just and pure." 

" That is what I understood from your letters to 
me, my dear Aristides. I am willing to leave the gen- 
eral argument for the present. But I should like to 
ask Mr. Thrall a question, and I hope it won't be 
offensive." 

Mr. Thrall smiled. " At any rate I promise not to 
be offended." 

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THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" You are a very rich man ?" 

" Much richer than I would like to be." 

" How rich ?" 

" Seventy millions ; eighty ; a hundred ; three hun- 
dred; I don't just know." 

" I don't supjDose you've always felt your great 
wealth a great blessing?" 

" A blessing ? There have been times when I felt 
it a millstone hanged about my neck, and could have 
wished nothing so much as that I were thro^vn into 
the sea. Man, you don't Tcnow what a curse I have 
felt my money to be at such times. When I have given 
it away, as I have by millions at a time, I have never 
been sure that I was not doing more harm than good 
with it. I have hired men to seek out good objects for 
me, and I have tried my best to find for myself causes 
and institutions and persons who might be helped with- 
out hindering others as worthy, but sometimes it seems 
as if every dollar of my money carried a blight with 
it, and infected whoever touched it with a moral pesti- 
lence. It has reached a sum where the wildest profli- 
gate couldn't spend it, and it grows and grows. It's 
as if it were a rising flood that had touched my lips, 
and would go over my head before I could reach the 
shore. I believe I got it honestly, and I have tried 
to share it with those whose labor earned it for me. 
I have founded schools and hospitals and homes for 
old men and old women, and asylums for children, and 
the blind, and deaf, and dumb, and halt, and mad. 
^Vlierever I have found one of my old workmen in 
need, and I have looked personally into the matter, I 
have provided for him fully, short of pauperization. 
Where I have heard of some gifted youth, I have had 
him educated in the line of his gift. I have collected 
a gallery of works of art, and opened it on Sundays 

203 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

as well as week-days to the public free. If there is a 
story of famine, far or near, I send food by the ship- 
load. If there is any great public calamity, my agents 
have instructions to come to the rescue without refer- 
ring the case to me. But it is all useless ! The money 
grows and grows, and I begin to feel that my efforts 
to employ it wisely and wholesomely are making me a 
public laughing-stock as well as an easy mark for every 
swindler with a job or a scheme." lie turned abrupt- 
ly to me. " But you must often have heard the same 
from my old friend Strange. We used to talk these 
things over together, when our money was not the heap 
that mine is now; and it seems to me I can hear his 
voice saying the very words I have been using." 

I, too, seemed to hear his voice in the words, and it 
was as if speaking from his grave. 

I looked at Aristides, and read compassion in his dear 
face; but the face of Cyril remained severe and ju- 
dicial. He said : " Then, if what you say is true, you 
cannot think it a hardship if we remove your burden 
for the time you remain ^dth us. I have consulted 
with the ISFational and Regional as well as the Com- 
munal authorities, and we cannot let you continue to 
live in the manner you are living here. You must pay 
your way." 

"I shall be only too glad to do that," Mr. Thrall 
returned, more cheerfully. " We have not a great deal 
of cash in hand, but I can give you my check on London 
or Paris or N"ew York." 

" In Altruria," Cyril returned, "we have no use for 
money. You must yay your way as soon as your pres- 
ent provision from your yacht is exhausted." 

Mr. Thrall turned a dazed look on the young lord, 
who suggested : " I don't think we follow you. How 
can Mr. Thrall pay his way except with money?" 

204 



THEOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" He must pay with worTc. As soon as you come 
npon the neighbors here for the necessities of life you 
must all work. To-morrow or the next day or next week 
at the furthest you must go to work, or you must starve." 
Then he came out with that text of Scripture which had 
been so efficient with the crew of the Little Sally: "For 
even when we w^ere with you this we commanded you, 
that if any would not work neither should he eat." 

Lord Moors seemed very interested, and not so much 
surprised as I had expected. " Yes, I have often 
thought of that passage and of its susceptibility to a 
simpler interpretation than we usually give it. But — " 

" There is but one interpretation of which it is 
susceptible," Cyril interru]3ted. " The apostle gives 
that interpretation when he prefaces the text with the 
words, ' For yourselves know how you ought to follow 
us ; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you. 
ISTeither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but 
ivrouglit with travail night and day, that we might not 
be chargeable to any of you: not because we have not; 
power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you toj 
follow us.' The whole economy of Altruria is founded i 
on these passages." • 

"Literally?" 

" Literally." 

" But, my dear sir," the young lord reasoned, " you 
surely do not wrench the text from some such meaning 
as that if a man has money, he may pay his way 
without working ?" 

" ISTo, certainly not. But here you have no money, 
and as we cannot suffer any to ' walk among us disorder- 
ly, working not at all,' we must not exempt you from 
our rule." 



XII 



At this point there came a sound from within the 
marquee as of skirts sweeping forward sharply, im- 
periously, followed by a softer frou - frou, and Mrs. 
Thrall i3ut aside the curtain of the tent with one hand, 
and stood challenging our little Altrurian group, while 
Lady Moors peered timidly at us from over her mother's 
shoulder. I felt a lust of battle rising in me at sight of 
that woman, and it was as much as I could do to con- 
trol myself ; but in view of the bad time I knew she was 
going to have, I managed to hold in, though I joined 
very scantly in the polite greetings of the Chrysostoms 
and Aristides, which she ignored as if they had been 
the salutations of savages. She glared at her husband 
for explanation, and he said, gently, " This is a dele- 
gation from the Altrurian capital, my dear, and we 
have been talking over the situation together." 

" But what is this," she demanded, " that I have 
heard about our not paying? Do they accuse us of 
not paying? You could buy and sell the whole coun- 
try." 

I never imagined so much mildness could be put 
into such offensive words as Cyril managed to get into 
his answer. " We accuse you of not paying, and we 
do not mean that you shall become chargeable to us. 
The men and women who served you on shipboard have 
been put to work, and you must go to work, too." 

" Mr. Thrall — Lord Moors • — have you allowed 
these people to treat you as if you were part of the 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

ship's crew ? Why don't you give them what they 
want and let them go ? Of course it's some sort of 
blackmailing scheme. But you ought to get rid of 
them at any cost. Then you can appeal to the au- 
thorities, and tell them that you will bring the matter 
to the notice of the government at Washington. They 
must be taught that they cannot insult x\merican citi- 
zens with impunity." iSTo one spoke, and she added, 
" What do they really want ?" 

" Well, my dear," her husband hesitated, " I hardly 
know how to exjDlain. But it seems that they think 
our living here in the way we do is disorderly, and — 
and they w^ant us to go to work, in short." 

" To work!" she shouted. 

" Yes, all of us. That is, so I understand." 

" What nonsense !" 

She looked at us one after another, and when her 
eye rested on me, I began to suspect that insolent as 
she was she was even duller; in fact, that she was so 
sodden in her conceit of wealth that she was plain 
stupid.^ So when she said to me, " You are an Ameri- 
can by birth, I believe. Can you tell me the mean- 
ing of this ?" I answered : 

" Cyril Chrysostom represents the authorities. If 
he asks me to speak, I will speak." Cyril nodded at 
me with a smile, and I went on. " It is a very simple 
matter. In Altruria everybody works with his hands 
three hours a day. After that he works or not, as he 
likes." 

" What have we to do with that ?" she asked. 

" The rule has no exceptions." 

" But we are not Altrurians ; we are Americans." 

" I am an American, too, and I work three hours 
every day, unless I am passing from one point to an- 
other on public business with my husband. Even 
14 207 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

then we prefer to stop during the work-hours, and help 
in the fields, or in the shops, or wherever we arc needed. 
I left my own mother at home doing her kitchen work 
yesterday afternoon, though it was out of hours, and she 
need not have Avorked." 

" Very well, then, we will do nothing of the kind, 
neither I, nor my daughter, nor my husband. He has 
worked hard all his life, and he has come away for a 
much-needed rest. I am not going to have him break- 
ing himself down." 

I could not help suggesting, " I suppose the men at 
work in his mines, and mills, and on his railroads and 
steamship lines are taking a much-needed rest, too. I 
hope you are not going to let them break themselves 
down, either." 

Aristidcs gave me a pained glance, and Cyril and his 
wife looked grave, but she not quite so grave as he. 
Lord Moors said, " We don't seem to be getting on. 
What Mrs. Thrall fails to see, and I confess I don't 
quite see it myself, is that if we are not here in forma 
'pauperis — " 

" But you arc here in forma pauperis" Cyril inter- 
posed, smilingly. 

" How is that ? If we are willing to pay — if Mr. 
Thrall's credit is undeniably good — " 

"Mr. Thrall's credit is not good in Altruria; you 
can pay here only in one currency, in the sweat of your 
faces." 

" You want us to be Tolstoys, I suppose," Mrs. 
Thrall said, contemptuously. 

Cyril replied, gently, " Tlie endeavor of Tolstoy, in 
capitalistic conditions, is necessarily dramatic. Your 
labor here will be for your daily bread, and it will 
be real." The inner dulness of the woman came into 
her eyes again, and he addressed himself to Lord Moors 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

in continuing : " If a company of indigent people 
were cast away on an English coast, after you had 
rendered them the first aid, what should you do ?" 

The young man reflected. " I suppose we should 
put them in the Avay of earning a living until some 
ship arrived to take them home." 

" That is merely what we propose to do in your case 
here," Cyril said. 

" But we are not indigent — " 

" Yes, you are absolutely destitute. You have 
money and credit, but neither has any value in Al- 
truria. ISTothing but work or love has any value in 
Altruria. You cannot realize too clearly that you stand 
before us in forma pauperis. But we require of you 
nothing that we do not require of ourselves. In Al- 
truria every one is poor till he pays with work; then, 
for that time, he is rich; and he cannot otherwise lift 
himself above charity, which, except in the case of 
the helpless, we consider immoral. Your life here of- 
fers a very corrupting spectacle. You are manifestly 
living without work, and you are served by people 
whose hire you are not able to pay." 

" My dear sir," Mr. Thrall said at this point, with 
a gentle smile, " I think they are willing to take the 
chances of being paid." 

"We cannot suffer them to do so. At present we 
know of no means of your getting away from Altru- 
ria. We have disused our custom of annually con- 
necting with the Australasian steamers, and it may 
be years before a vessel touches on our coast. 'A ship 
sailed for Boston some months ago, with the promise 
of returning in order that the crew may cast in their 
lot with us permanently. We do not confide in that 
promise, and you must therefore conform to our rule 
of life. Understand clearly that the willingness of 

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THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

your servants to serve you has nothing to do with 
the matter. That is part of the falsity in which the 
whole capitalistic world lives. As the matter stands 
with you, here, there is as much reason why you should 
serve them as they should serve you. If on their side 
they should elect to serve you from love, they will be 
allowed to do so. Otherwise, you and they must go to 
work with the neighbors at the tasks they will assign 
you." 

" Do you mean at once V Lord Moors asked. 

" The hours of the obligatory labors are nearly past 
for the day. But if you are interested in learning what 
you will be set to doing to-morrow, the Communal au- 
thorities will be pleased to instruct you during the 
Voluntaries this afternoon. You may be sure that in 
no case will your weakness or inexj)erience be over- 
tasked. Your histories will be studied, and appropri- 
ate work will be assigned to each of you." 

Mrs. Thrall burst out, " If you think I am going 
into my kitchen — " 

Then I burst in, " I left my mother in her kitchen !" 

" And a very fit place for her, I dare say," she 
retorted, but Lady Moors caught her mother's arm and 
murmured, in much the same distress as showed in my 
husband's mild eyes, " Mother ! Mother !" and drew 
her within. 



XIII 

Well, Dolly, I suppose you will think it was pretty 
hard for those people, and when I got over my temper 
I confess that I felt sorry for the two men, and for the 
young girl whom the Altrurians would not call Lady 
Moors, but addressed by her Christian name, as they 
did each of the American party in his or her turn; 
even Mrs. Thrall had to answer to Kebecca. They 
were all rather bewildered, and so were the butler and 
the footmen, and the chef and his helpers, and the 
ladies' maids. These were even more shocked than 
those they considered their betters, and I quite took 
to my affections Lord Moors' man Robert, who was 
in an awe-stricken way trying to get some light from 
me on the situation. He contributed as much as any 
one to bring about a peaceful submission to the inevit- 
able, for he had been a near witness of what had hap- 
pened to the crew when they attempted their rebellion 
to the authorities ; but he did not profess to understand 
the matter, and from time to time he seemed to question 
the reality of it. 

The two masters, as you would call Mr. Thrall and 
Lord Moors, both took an attitude of amiable curiosity 
towards their fate, and accepted it with interest when 
they had partly chosen and partly been chosen by it. 
Mr. Thrall had been brought up on a farm till his 
ambition carried him into the world; and he found 
the light gardening assigned him for his first task by 
no means a hardship. He was rather critical of the 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

Altrurian style of hoc at first, but after lie got the 
hang of it, as he said, he liked it better, and during 
the three hours of the first morning's Obligatorics, his 
ardor to cut all the weeds out at once had to be re- 
strained rather than prompted. He could not be per- 
suaded to take five minutes for rest out of every 
twenty, and he could not get over his life-long habit of 
working against time. The Altrurians tried to make 
him understand that here people must not work 
against time, but must always work with it, so as to 
have enough work to do each day ; otherwise they must 
remain idle during the Obligatorics and tend to de- 
moralize the workers. It seemed that Lady Moors 
had a passion for gardening, and she was set to work 
with her father on the border of flowers surrounding 
the vegetable patch he was hoeing. She knew about 
flowers, and from her childhood had amused herself 
by growing them, and so far from thinking it a hard- 
ship or disgrace to dig, she was delighted to get at 
them. It was easy to see that she and her father were 
cronies, and when I Avent round in the morning with 
Aristides to ask if we could do anything for them, we 
heard them laughing and talking gayly together before 
we reached them. They said they had looked their job 
(as Mr. Thrall called it) over the afternoon before 
during the Voluntaries, and had decided how they 
would manage, and the}'^ had set to work that morning 
as soon as they had breakfast. Lady Moors had helped 
her mother get the breakfast, and she seemed to regard 
the whole affair as a picnic, though from the look of 
Mrs. Thrall's back, as she turned it on me, when I 
saw her coming to the door of the marquee with a 
coffee-pot in her hand, I decided tliat she was not yet 
resigned to her new lot in life. 

Lord Moors was nowhere to be seen, and I felt some 
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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

little curiosity about liiiu which was not quite anxiety. 
Later, as we were going back to our quarters in the 
village, we saw him working on the road with a party 
of Altrurians who were repairing a washout from an 
overnight rain. They were having all kinds of a 
time, except a bad time, trying to understand each 
other in their want of a common language. It ap- 
peared that the Altrurians were impressed with his 
knowledge of road-making, and were doing something 
which he had indicated to them by signs. We offered 
our services as interpreters, and then he modestly 
owned in defence of his suggestions that when he was 
at Oxford he had been one of the band of enthusiastic 
undergraduates who had built a piece of highway 
under Mr. Ruskin's direction. The Altrurians re- 
garded his suggestions as rather amateurish, but they 
were glad to act upon them, when they could, out of 
pure good feeling and liking for him; and from time 
to time they rushed upon him and shook hands with 
him; their affection did not go further, and he was 
able to stand the handshaking, though he told us he 
hoped they would not feel it necessary to keep it up, 
for it was really only a very simple matter like put- 
ting a culvert in place of a sluice which they had been 
using to carry the water off. They understood what 
he was saying, from his gestures, and they crowded 
round us to ask whether he would like to join them 
during the Voluntaries that afternoon, in getting the 
stone out of a neighboring quarry, and putting in the 
culvert at once. We explained to him, and he said 
he should be very happy. x\ll the time he was look- 
ing at them admirably, and he said, " It's really very 
good," and we understood that he meant their classic 
working-dress, and when he added, " I should really 
fancy trying it myself one day," and we told them, 

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THKOUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

they wanted to go and bring him an Altrurian cos- 
tnme at once. But we persuaded them not to urge 
him, and in fact he looked very fit for his work in his 
yachting flannels. 

I talked him over a long time with Aristides, and 
tried to get his point of view. I decided finally that an 
Englishman of his ancient lineage and high breeding, 
having voluntarily come down to the level of an Amer- 
ican millionaire by marriage, could not feel that he 
was lowering himself any further by working with his 
hands. In fact, he probably felt that his merely un- 
dertaking a thing dignified the thing; but of course this 
was only speculation on my part, and he may have been 
resigned to working for a living because like poor peo- 
ple elsewhere he was obliged to do it. Aristides thought 
there was a good deal in that idea, but it is hard for an 
Altrurian to conceive of being ashamed of work, for 
they regard idleness as pauperism, and they would 
look upon our leisure classes, so far as we have them, 
very much as we look upon tramps, only they would 
make the excuse for our tramps that they often cannot 
get work. 

We had far more trouble with the servants than we 
had with the masters in making them understand that 
they were to go to work in the fields and shops, quite 
as the crew of the yacht had done. Some of them re- 
fused outright, and stuck to their refusal until the vil- 
lage electrician rescued them with the sort of net and 
electric filament which had been employed with the 
recalcitrant sailors; others were brought to a better 
mind by withholding food from them till they were will- 
ing to pay for it by working. You will be sorry to learn, 
Dolly, that the worst of the rebels were the ladies' maids, 
who, for the honor of our sex, ought not to have re- 
quired the application of the net and filament ; but they 

214 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

had not such appetites as the men-servants, and did not 
mind starving so much. However, in a very short time 
they were at work, too, and more or less resigned, 
though they did not profess to understand it. 

You will think me rather fickle, I am afraid, but 
after I made the personal acquaintance of Mr. Thrall's 
chef, Anatole, I found my affections dividing them- 
selves between him and his lordship's man Robert, my 
first love. But Anatole was magnificent, a gaunt, lit- 
tle, aquiline man, with a branching mustache and gal- 
lant goatee, and having held an exalted position at a sal- 
ary of ten thousand a year from Mr. Thrall, he could 
easily stoop from it, while poor Robert was tormented 
with misgivings, not for himself, but for Lord and Lady 
Moors and Mr. Thrall. It became my pleasing office to 
explain the situation to Monsieur Anatole, who, when 
he imagined it, gave a cry of joy, and confessed, what 
he had never liked to tell Mr. Thrall, knowing the 
misconceptions of Americans on the subject, that he 
had belonged in France to a party of which the po- 
litical and social ideal was almost identical with that 
of the Altrurians. He asked for an early opportunity 
of addressing the village Assembly and explaining this 
delightful circumstance in public, and he profited by 
the occasion to embrace the first Altrurian we met and 
kiss him on both cheeks. 

His victim was a messenger from the Commune, who 
had been sent to inquire whether Anatole had a prefer- 
ence as to the employment which should be assigned 
to him, and I had to reply for him that he was a man of 
science ; that he would be happy to serve the republic in 
whatever capacity his concitizens chose, but that he 
thought he could be most useful in studying the comes- 
tible vegetation of the neighborhood, and the substi- 
tution of the more succulent herbs for the flesh-meats 

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to tlie use of which, ho understood from me, the Altru- 
rians were opposed. In the course of his preparation 
for the role of clief, which he had played both in Trance 
and America, he had made a specialty of edible fun- 
gi; and the result was that Anatole was set to mush- 
rooming, and up to this moment he has discovered no 
less than six species hitherto unknown to the Altru- 
rian table. This has added to their dietary in several 
important particulars, the fungi he has discovered be- 
ing among those highly decorative and extremely 
poisonous - looking sorts which flourish in the deep 
woods and offer themselves almost inexhaustibly in 
places near the ruins of the old capitalistic cities, 
where hardly any other foods will grow. Anatole is 
very proud of his success, and at more than one Com- 
munal Assembly has lectured upon his discoveries and 
treated of their preparation for the table, with sketches 
of them as he found them growing, colored after nat- 
ure by his own hand. lie has himself become a fanati- 
cal vegetarian, having, he confesses, always had a secret 
loathing for the meats he stooped to direct the cooking 
of among the French and American bourgeoisie in the 
days which he already looks back upon as among the 
most benighted of his history. 



XIV 

The scene has changed again, DoUj, and six months 
have elapsed without yonr knowing it. Aristides and 
I long ago completed the tour of the capitals which the 
Thrall incident interrupted, and we have been set- 
tled for many months in the Maritime Capital, where 
it has been decided we had better fill out the first two 
years of my husband's repatriation. I have become 
more and more thoroughly naturalized, and if I am 
not yet a perfect Altrurian, it is not for not loving 
better and better the best Altrurian of them all, and 
not for not admiring and revering this wonderful 
civilization. 

During the Obligatories of the forenoons I do my 
housework with my own hands, and as my mother lives 
Avith us we have long talks together, and try to make 
each other believe that the American conditions were a 
sort of nightmare from which we have happily awak- 
ened. You see how terribly frank I am, my dear, but if 
I were not, I could not make you understand how I feel. 
My heart aches for you, there, and the more because 
I know that you do not want to live differently, that 
you are proud of your economic and social illogicality, 
and that you think America is the best country under 
the sun ! I can never persuade you, but if you could 
only come here, once, and see for yourselves ! Seeing 
would be believing, and believing would be the wish 
never to go away, but to be at home here always. 

I can imagine your laughing at me and asking Mr. 
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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

Makely whether the Little Sally has ever returned to 
Altruria, and how I can account for the captain's fail- 
ure to keep his word. I confess that is a sore point 
with me. It is now more than a year since she sailed, 
and, of course, we have not had a sign or whisper from 
her. I could almost wish that the crew were willing to 
stay away, but I am afraid it is the captain who is 
keeping them. It has become almost a mania with me, 
and every morning, the first thing when I wake, I go 
for my before-breakfast walk along the marble terrace 
that overlooks the sea, and scan the empty rounding for 
the recreant ship. I do not want to think so badly of 
human nature, as I must if the Little Sally never comes 
back, and I am sure you will not blame me if I should 
like her to bring me some word from you. I know 
that if she ever reached Boston you got my letters 
and presents, and that you have been writing me as 
faithfully as I have been writing you, and what a sheaf 
of letters from you there will be if her masts ever pierce 
the horizon! To tell the truth, I do long for a little 
American news! Do you still keep on murdering and 
divorcing, and drowning, and burning, and mommick- 
ing, and maiming people by sea and land ? Has there 
been any war since I left? Is the financial panic as 
great as ever, and is there as much hunger and cold? 
I know that wliatever your crimes and calamities are, 
your heroism and martyrdom, your wild generosity 
and self-devotion, are equal to them. 

It is no use to pretend that in little over a year I can 
have become accustomed to the eventlessness of life in 
Altruria. I go on for a good many days together and 
do not miss the exciting incidents you have in America, 
and then suddenly I am wolfishly hungry for the old 
sensations, just as now and then I luant meat, though 
I know I should loathe the sight and smell of it if I 

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came within reach of it. You would laugh, I dare say, \ 
at the Altrurian papers, and what they print for news. 
Most of the space is taken up with poetry, and charac- 
ter study in the form of fiction, and scientific inquiry 
of every kind. But now and then there is a report 
of the production of a new play in one of the capitals ; 
or an account of an open - air j)astoral in one of the 
communes; or the progress of some public work, like 
the extension of the ISTational Colonnade; or the won- 
derful liberation of some section from malaria; or the 
story of some good man or woman's life, ended at the 
patriarchal age they reach here. They also print se- 
lected passages of capitalistic history, from the earli- 
est to the latest times, showing how in war and pesti- 
lence and needless disaster the world outside Altruria 
remains essentially the same that it was at the begin- 
ning of civilization, with some slight changes through 
the changes of human nature for the better in its slow 
approaches to the Altrurian ideal. In noting these 
changes the writers get some sad amusement out of 
the fact that the capitalistic world believes human 
nature cannot be changed, though cannibalism and 
slavery and polygamy have all been extirpated in the 
so-called Christian countries, and these things were once 
human nature, which is always changing, while brute 
nature remains the same. itsTow and then they touch 
very guardedly on that slavery, worse than war, worse 
than any sin or shame conceivable to the Altrurians, 
in which uncounted myriads of women are held and 
bought and sold, and they have to note that in this 
the capitalistic world is without the hope of better 
things. You know what I mean, Dolly; every good 
woman knows the little she cannot help knowing; 
but if you had ever inquired into that horror, as I once 
felt obliged to do, you would think it the blackest hor- 

219 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

ror of the state of things where it must always exist 
as long as there are riches and poverty. Now, when 
so many things in America seem bad dreams, I cannot 
take refnge in thinking that a bad dream; the reality 
was so deeply burnt into my brain by the words of 
some of the slaves ; and when I think of it I want to 
grovel on the ground with my mouth in the dust. But 
I know this can only distress you, for you cannot get 
away from the fact as I have got away from it; that 
there it is in the next street, perhaps in the next house, 
and that any night when you leave your home with 
your husband, you may meet it at the first step from 
your door. 

You can very well imagine what a godsend the 
reports of Aristides and the discussions of them have 
been to our papers. They were always taken down 
stenographically, and they were printed like dialogue, so 
that at a little distance you would take them at first for 
murder trials or divorce cases, but when you look 
closer, you find them questions and answers about the 
state of things in America. There are often humor- 
ous passages, for the Altrurians are inextinguishably 
amused by our illogicality, and what they call the per- 
petual non sequiturs of our lives and laws. In the 
discussions they frequently burlesque these, but as they 
present them they seem really beyond the wildest bur- 
lesque. Perhaps you will be surprised to know that 
a nation of working-people like these feel more com- 
passion than admiration for our working-people. They 
pity them, but they blame them more than they blame 
the idle rich for the existing condition of things in 
America. They ask why, if the American workmen 
are in the immense majority, they do not vote a true 
and just state, and why they go on striking and starving 
their families instead ; they cannot distinguish in prin- 

220 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

ciple between the confederations of labor and the com- 
binations of capital, between the trusts and the trades- 
unions, and they condemn even more severely the op- 
pressions and abuses of the unions. My husband tries 
to explain that the unions are merely provisional, and 
are a temporary means of enabling the employees to 
stand up against the tyranny of the employers, but 
they always come back and ask him if the workmen 
have not most of the votes, and if they have, why they 
do not protect themselves peacefully instead of or- 
ganizing themselves in fighting shape, and making a 
warfare of industry. 

There is not often anything so much like news in the 
Altrurian papers as the grounding of the Thrall 
yacht on the coast of the Seventh Region, and the in- 
cident has been treated and discussed in every possible 
phase by the editors and their correspondents. They 
have been very frank about it, as they are about every- 
thing in Altruria, and they have not concealed their 
anxieties about their unwelcome guests. They got on 
without much trouble in the case of the few sailors of 
the Little Sally, but the crew of the Saraband is so 
large that it is a different matter. In the first place, 
they do not like the application of force, even in the 
mild electrical form in which they employ it, and they 
fear that the effect with themselves will be bad, how- 
ever good it is for their guests. Besides, they dread the 
influence which a number of people, invested with the 
charm of strangeness, may have with the young men 
and especially the young girls of the neighborhood. 
The hardest thing the Altrurians have to grapple with 
is feminine curiosity, and the play of this about the 
strangers is what they seek the most anxiously to con- 
trol. Of course, you will think it funny, and I must 
say that it seemed so to me at first, but I have come 

221 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

to think it is serious. The Altrurian girls are culti- 
vated and refined, but as they have worked all their 
lives with their hands they cannot imagine the differ- 
ence that work makes in Americans; that it coarsens 
and classes them, especially if they have been in im- 
mediate contact with rich people, and been degraded or 
brutalized by the knowledge of the contempt in which 
labor is held among us by those who are not compelled 
to it. Some of my Altrurian friends have talked it 
over with me, and I could take their point of view, 
though secretly I could not keep my poor American 
feelings from being hurt when they said that to have a 
large number of people from the capitalistic world 
thrown upon their hands was very much as it would 
be with us if we had the same number of Indians, with 
all their tribal customs and ideals, thrown upon our 
hands. They say they will not shirk their duty in the 
matter, and will study it carefully; but all the same, 
they wish the incident had not happened. 



XV 



I AM glad that I was called away from the disagree- 
able point I left in my last, and that I have got back 
temporarily to the scene of the Altrurianization of Mr. 
Thrall and his family. So far as it has gone it is 
perfect, if I may speak from the witness of happiness 
in those concerned, except perhaps Mrs. Thrall; she 
is as yet only partially reconstructed, but even she has 
moments of forgetting her lost grandeur and of really 
enjoying herself in her work. She is an excellent 
housekeeper, and she has become so much interested 
in making the marquee a simple home for her family 
that she is rather j)roud of showing it off as the effect 
of her unaided efforts. She was allowed to cater to 
them from the canned meats brought ashore from the 
yacht as long as they would stand it, but the wholesome 
open-air conditions have worked a wonderful change 
in them, and neither Mr. Thrall nor Lord and Lady 
Moors now have any taste for such dishes. Here Mrs. 
Thrall's old-time skill as an excellent vegetable cook, 
when she was the wife of a young mechanic, has come 
into play, and she believes that she sets the best table 
in the whole neighborhood, with fruits and many sorts 
of succulents and the everlasting and ever-pervading 
mushrooms. 

As the Altrurians do not wish to annoy their invol- 
untary guests, or to interfere with their way of life 
where they do not consider it immoral, their control 
has ended with setting them to work for a living. They 
xs 223 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

hav^e not asked tliciii to the communal refectory, but, 
as long as they have been content to serve each other, 
have allowed them their private table. Of course, their 
adaptation to their new way of life has proceeded more 
slowly than it otherwise would, but with the exception 
of Mrs. Thrall they are very intelligent people, and 
I have been charmed in talking the situation over 
with them. The trouble has not been so great with 
the ship's people, as was feared. Such of these as 
j have imagined their stay here permanent, or wished 
it to be so, have been received into the neighboring 
I communes, and have taken the first steps towards 
, naturalization ; those who look forward to getting 
away some time, or express the wish for it, are al- 
lowed to live in a community of their own, where they 
are not molested as long as they work in the three 
hours of the Obligatories. l^aturally, they are kept out 
of mischief, but after their first instruction in the ideas 
, of public property and the impossibility of enriching 
/ themselves at the expense of any one else, they have be- 
haved very well. The greatest trouble they ever gave 
was in trapping and killing the wild things for food; 
but when they were told that this must not be done, 
and taught to recognize the vast range of edible fungi, 
they took not unwillingly to mushrooms and the ranker 
tubers and roots, from which, with unlimited eggs, 
cheese, milk, and shell-fish, they have constructed a diet 
of which they do not complain. 

This brings me rather tangentially to Monsieur Ana- 
tole, who has become a fanatical Altrurian, and has 
even had to be restrained in some of his enthusiastic 
plans for the compulsory naturalization of his fellow 
castaways. His value as a scientist has been cordially 
recognized, and his gifts as an artist in the exquisite 
water-color studies of edible fungi has won his notice 

224 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

in the capital of the Seventh Regional where they have 
been shown at the spring water-color exhibition. He 
has printed several poems in the Regional Gazette, i 
villanelles, rondeanx, and triolets, with accompanying 
versions of the French, into Altrurian by one of the 
first Altrurian poets. This is a widow of about Mon- 
sieur Anatole's own age; and the literary friendship 
between them has ripened into something much more 
serious. In fact they are engaged to be married. I 
suppose you will laugh at this, Dolly, and at first I 
confess that there was enough of the old American in 
me to be shocked at the idea of a French chef marry- 
ing an Altrurian lady who could trace her descent to 
the first Altrurian president of the Commonwealth, 
and who is universally loved and honored. I could not 
help letting something of the kind escape me by acci- 
dent, to a friend, and presently Mrs. Chrysostom was 
sent to interview me on the subject, and to learn just 
how the case appeared to me. This put me on my honor, 
and I was obliged to say how it would appear in Amer- 
ica, though every moment I grew more and more 
ashamed of myself and my native country, where we 
pretend that labor is honorable, and are always heap- 
ing dishonor on it. I told how certain of our girls and 
matrons had married their coachmen and riding-mas- 
ters and put themselves at odds with society, and I con- 
fessed that marrying a cook would be regarded as worse, 
if possible. 

Mrs. Chrysostom was accompanied by a lady in her 
second youth, very graceful, very charmingly dressed, 
and with an expression of winning intelligence, whom 
she named to me simply as Cecilia, in the Altrurian 
fashion. She apparently knew no English, and at first 
Mrs. Chrysostom translated each of her questions and 
my answers. When I had got through, this lady began 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

to question me herself in Altrurian, which I owned to 
understanding a little. She said: 

" You know Anatole ?" 

" Yes, certainly, and I like him, as I think every one 
must who knows him." 

" He is a skilful cheff 

" Mr. Thrall would not have paid him ten thousand 
dollars a year if he had not been." 

" You have seen some of his water-colors ?" 

" Yes. They are exquisite. He is unquestionably 
an artist of rare talent." 

" And it is known to you that he is a man of scien- 
tific attainments?" 

" That is something I cannot judge of so well as 
Aristides; but he says M. Anatole is learned beyond 
any man he knows in edible fungi." 

" As an adoptive Altrurian, and knowing the Amer- 
ican ideas from our point of view, should you respect 
their ideas of social inequality?" 

" ]^ot the least in the world. I understand as well 
as you do that their ideas must prevail wherever 
one works for a living and another does not. Those 
ideas are practically as much accepted in America 
as they are in Europe, but I have fully renounced 
them." 

You see, Dolly, how far I have gone ! 

The unknown, who could be pretty easily imagined, 
rose up and gave me her hand. " If you are in the 
Region on the third of May you must come to our wed- 
ding." 

The same afternoon I had a long talk with Mr. 
Thrall, whom I found at work replanting a strawber- 
ry-patch during the Voluntaries. He rose up at the 
sound of my voice, and after an old man's dim moment 
for getting me mentally in focus, he brightened into a 

226 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

genial smile, and said, " Oh, Mrs. Homos ! I am glad 
to see you." 

I told him to go on with his planting, and I offered 
to get do"\vn on my knees beside him and help, but he 
gallantly handed me to a seat in the shade beside his 
daughter's flower-bed, and it was there that we had a 
long talk about conditions in [America and Altruria, 
and how he felt about the great change in his life. 

" Well, I can truly say," he answered much more 
at length than I shall report, " that I have never 
been so happy since the first days of my boyhood. All 
care has dropped from me; I don't feel myself rich, 
and I don't feel myself poor in this perfect safety from 
want. The only thing that gives me any regret is that 
my present state has not been the effect of my own 
will and deed. If I am now following the greatest and 
truest of all counsels it has not been because I have 
sold all and given to the poor, but because my money 
has been mercifully taken from me, and I have been 
released from its responsibilities in a state of things 
where there is no money." 

''But, Mr. Thrall," I said, "don't you ever feel 
that you have a duty to the immense fortune which you 
have left in America, and which must be disposed of 
somehow when people are satisfied that you are not 
going to return and dispose of it yourself ?" 

" !N'o, none. I was long ago satisfied that I could 
really do no good with it. Perhaps if I had had more 
faith in it I might have done some good with it, but 
I believe that I never did anything but harm, even 
when I seemed to be helping the most, for I was aiding 
in the perpetuation of a state of things essentially 
wrong. ISTow, if I never go back — and I never wish 
to go back — let the law dispose of it as seems best to 
the authorities. I have no kith or kin, and my wife has 

227 



TUROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

none, so there is no one to feel aggrieved bj its appli- 
cation to public objects." 

" And how do you imagine it will be disposed of ?" 

" Oh, I suppose for charitable and educational pur- 
poses. Of course a good deal of it will go in gTaf t ; but 
that cannot be helped." 

" But if you could now dispose of it according to 
your clearest ideas of justice, and if you were forced 
to make the disposition yourself, what would you do 
with it ?" 

" Well, that is something I have been thinking of, 
and as nearly as I can make out, I ought to go into the 
records of my prosperity and ascertain just how and 
when I made my money. Then I ought to seek out as 
fully as possible the workmen who helped me make it 
by their labor. Their v/ages, which were always the 
highest, were never a fair share, though I forced my- 
self to think differently, and it should be my duty to 
inquire for them and j^ay them each a fair share, or, 
if they are dead, then their children or their next 
of kin. But even when I had done this I should 
not be sure that I had not done them more harm than 
good." 

How often I had heard poor Mr. Strange say things 
like this, and heard of other rich men saying them, 
after lives of what is called beneficence! Mr. Thrall 
drew a deep sigh, and cast a longing look at his straw- 
berry-bed, I laughed, and said, " You are anxious to 
get back to your plants, and I won't keep you. I won- 
der if Mrs. Thrall could see mc if I called; or Lady 
Moors ?" 

He said he was sure they would, and I took my way 
over to the marquee. I was a little surprised to be met 
at the door by Lord Moors' man Robert. He told me 
he was very sorry, but her ladyship was helping his 

228 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

lordsliip at a little job on the roads, which they were 
doing quite in the Voluntaries, with the hope of having 
the ISTational Colonnade extended to a given point ; the 
ladies were helping the gentlemen get the place in 
shape. He was still sorrier, bnt I not so much, that 
Mrs, Thrall was lying down and wonld like to be ex- 
cused; she was rather tired from putting away the 
luncheon things. 

He asked me if I would not sit down, and he offered 
me one of the camp-stools at the door of the marquee, 
and I did sit doA\Ti for a moment, while he flitted about 
the interior doing various little things. At last I said, 
" How is this, Robert ? I thought you had been as- 
signed to a place in the communal refectory. You're 
not here on the old terms ?" 

He came out and stood respectfully holding a dust- 
ing - cloth in his hand. " Thank you, not exactly, 
ma'am. But the fact is, ma'am, that the communal 
monitors have allowed me to come back here a few 
hours in the afternoon, on what I may call terms of 
my own." 

" I don't understand. But won't you sit down, 
Robert?" 

" Thank you, if it is the same to you, ma'am, I would 
rather stand while I'm here. In the refectory, of 
course, it's different." 

" But about your own terms ?" 

" Thanks. You see, ma'am, I've thought all along 
it was a bit awkward for them here, thev not beina; so 
much used to looking after things, and I asked leave to 
come and help now and then. Of course, they said that 
I could not be allowed to serve for hire in Altruria; 
and one thing led to another, and I said it would really 
be a favor to me, and I didn't expect money for my 
work, for I did not suppose I should ever be where I 

220 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

could use it again, but if they would let me come here 
and do it for — " 

Robert stopped and blushed and looked down, and I 
took the word, " For love ?" 

" Well, ma'am, that's what they called it." 

Dolly, it made the tears come into my eyes, and I 
said very solemnly, " Robert, do you know, I believe 
3^ou are the sweetest soul even in this land flowing with 
milk and honey?" 

" Oh, you mustn't say that, ma'am. There's "Mr. 
Thrall and his lordship and her ladyship. I'm sure 
they would do the like for me if I needed their help. 
And there are the Altrurians, you know." 

" But they are used to it, Robert, and — Robert ! Be 
frank with me ! What do you think of Altruria ?" 

" Quite frank, ma'am, as if you were not connected 
with it, as you are ?" 

" Quite frank." 

" Well, ma'am, if you are sure you wouldn't mind it, 
or consider it out of the way for me, I should say it 
was — rum." 

" Rum ? Don't you think it is beautiful here, to see 
people living for each other instead of living on each 
other, and the whole nation like one family, and the 
country a paradise ?" 

" Well, that's just it, ma'am, if you won't mind my 
saying so. That's what I mean by rum." 

" Won't you explain ?" 

" It doesn't seem I'eal. Every night when I go to 
sleep, and think that there isn't a thief or a policeman 
on the whole continent, and only a few harmless homi- 
cides, as you call them, that wouldn't hurt a fly, and 
not a person hungry or cold, and no poor and no rich, 
and no servants and no masters, and no soldiers, and no 
— disreputable characters, it seems as if I was going to 

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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

wake up in the morning and find myself on the Sara- 
band and it all a dream here." 

" Yes, Robert," I had to own, " that was the way 
with me, too, for a long while. And even now I have 
dreams about America and the way matters are there, 
and I wake myself weeping for fear Altruria isnt true. 
Robert ! You must be honest with me ! When you are 
awake, and it's broad day, and you see how happy every 
one is here, either working or playing, and the whole 
land without an ugly place in it, and the lovely villages 
and the magnificent towns, and everything, does it still 
seem — rum ?" 

" It's like that, ma'am, at times. I don't say at all 
times." 

" And you don't believe that the rest of the 
world — England and America — will ever be rum, 
too ?" 

" I don't see how they can. You see the poor are 
against it as well as the rich. Everybody wants to have 
something of his own, and the trouble seems to come 
from that. I don't suppose it was brought about in a 
day, Altruria wasn't, ma'am ?" 

" 1^0, it was whole centuries coming." 

" That was what I understood from that Mr. Chrys- 
ostoni — Cyril, he wants me to call him, but I can't 
quite make up my mouth to it — who speaks English, 
and says he has been in England. Tie was telling me 
about it, one day when we were drying the dishes at the 
refectory together. He says they used to have wars 
and trusts and trades-unions here in the old days, just 
as we do now in civilized countries." 

" And you don't consider Altruria civilized ?" 

" Well, not in just that sense of the word, ma'am. 
You wouldn't call heaven civilized ?" 

" Well, not in just that sense of the word. Robert." 
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THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

" You see, it's rum here, because, though everything 
seems to go so right, it's against human nature." 

" The Altrurians say it isn't." 

" I hope I don't differ from you, ma'am, but what 
would people — the best people — at home say? They 
would say it wasn't reasonable ; they would say it wasn't 
even possible. That's what makes me think it's a 
dream — that it's rum. Begging your pardon, ma'am." 

" Oh, I quite understand, Robert. Then you don't be- 
lieve a camel can ever go through the eye of a needle ?" 

" I don't quite see how, ma'am." 

" But you are proof of as great a miracle, Robert." 

" Beg your pardon, ma'am ?" 

" Some day I will explain. But is there nothing that 
can make you believe Altruria is true here, and that it 
can be true anywhere ?" 

" I have been thinking a good deal about that, ma'am. 
One doesn't quite like to go about in a dream, or think 
one is dreaming, and I have got to saying to myself 
that if some ship was to come here from England or 
America, or even from Germany, and -we could compare 
our feelings with the feelings of peo]:)le who were fresh 
to it, we might somehow get to believe that it was real." 

" Yes," I had to own. " We need fresh proofs from 
time to time. There was a ship that sailed from here 
something over a year ago, and the captain promised 
his crew to let them bring her back, but at times I am 
afraid that was part of the dream, too, and that we're 
all something I am dreaming about." 

" Just so, ma'am," Robert said, and I came away 
do^vnhearted enough, though he called after me, " Mrs. 
Thrall will be very sorry, ma'am." 

Back in the Maritime Capital, and oh, Dolly, Dolly, 
Dolly! They have sighted the rAttle Sally from the 

282 



THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE 

terrace ! How liappy I am ! There will be letters from 
you, and I shall hear all that has happened in America, 
and I shall never again doubt that Altruria is real ! I 
don't know how I shall get these letters of mine back 
to you, but somehow it can be managed. Perhaps the 
8arahand's crew will like to take the Little Sally home 
again; perhaps when Mr. Thrall knows the ship is 
here he will want to buy it and go back to his money in 
America and the misery of it ! Do you believe he will ? 
Should I like to remind my husband of his promise 
to take me home on a visit ? Oh, my heart misgives 
me! I wonder if the captain of the Little Sally has 
brought his wife and children with him, and is going 
to settle among us, or whether he has just let his men 
have the vessel, and they have come to Altruria with- 
out him? I dare not ask anything, I dare not think 
anything ! 



THE END 



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